What Consumers Want
And just a tidbit . . . Back in the spring, another ACTA – the America’s Carrier Telecommunications Association – actually lobbied the FCC to ban Internet telephony. That ultimately failed, but isn’t the fact that they were even willing to try indicative that they are out of touch with what consumers want?
What do consumers want? It depends on which generation the consumer is part of. Young people think that content was made to be shared. They know that it comes from somewhere because they have seen the bands in the videos on YouTube. Although they may get some music from iTunes, they don’t buy CDs. They don’t read Rolling Stone or TV Guide. They rely on their friends, not the radio or television, to tell them what music is good. They freely trade what they have with their friends, both on the Internet and on a more personal level. They have a concept of “flow." Music and movies, advertisements and information are flowing all around them, a keystroke or less away, competing for their attention and always easily accessible.
This is anathema to big content.
And that’s why I think that ACTA, and the RIAA’s and MPAA’s efforts against casual piracy will ultimately fail.
Information wants to be free, and the incoming generation both demands and expects it. Members of that generation, too, are the content creators as well as the consumers of tomorrow, and some of them are even now in those independent young bands that are bypassing the studios to “up" their music on iTunes, which has become cheaper than ever.
Old maps used to say, “Here be dragons." One can look at the movie industry and think, “Here be dinosaurs." At least the music industry is finally figuring out that customers don’t want digitals rights management (DRM). That’s why MP3 sales are actually zooming now. How bad and ugly will it get before the more entrenched motion picture industry discovers the same thing?
"Direct to DVD" is becoming "Direct to Download" already. No theater needed. (One wonders how long the theaters will be able to hang on as the recession deepens and inflation sets in.)
iTunes taught us all that owning a song is worth ninety-nine cents. The movie studios need to get with the program. Renting and watching a movie on an iPhone or PC or TV should also cost $0.99. It costs virtually nothing for big content to distribute the media, yet they want the same profit level that they used to get in a DVD sale. From the end-user's perspective, he's paying for only temporary use of the media and there's no physical media at all. When a purchase is made from iTunes, one gets a file that is a song that has a name that one can listen to, over and over if so desired. When one "rents" a downloadable movie, nothing is owned and nothing is left. The downloads don't come with the "DVD Extras" like "The Making of" and director's commentary. A downloaded movie rental is a thing of reduced value, yet the studios want users to pay for the equivalent of a brick and mortar video store rental. This is absurd. The studios should be looking for the equilibrium point and pricing their rental downloads to appeal to a greater number of viewers that will equal or exceed the profit from a DVD sale.
So while detecting and preventing physical counterfeits is a very worthwhile and needful cause, especially in the area of health care products and airplane parts, and while we're in for a bumpy ride while the pipe providers and the content pushers snark it out, attempting to appease the dinosaurs is doomed to fail. Their business is apparently changing faster than they can comprehend.
Remember that incoming generation.If content isn’t free, it had better be cheap and easy to obtain and use.
Or they'll find it elsewhere.