In Play… New Media Consolidates (again)

Yahoo is still in play, according to Jerry Yang, Cringely has suggested that Adobe is in the cross hairs of Apple’s sights, Adobe has opened up Flash (and Air) as a service-based platform, Amazon & Apple both have rich-media pervasive devices, Microsoft is ‘meshing’ up Live, and Google is holding Verizon’s feet to the fire. Are these related? I think so…

New media as a concept is comprised of three critical pieces that have been touted and revisited for as long as the Web has been commercialized:

  • Content – User- or -corporate generated, Content is the killer app of new media; and it’s the reason that people want pervasive broadband access.
  • Commerce – The monetization of content, Commerce (either via advertising or retail) represents the underwriting of all content in new media.
  • Conduit -As the method of connecting consumers with content (so traffic can be monetized), the Conduit is the way that people engage with new media.
  • Yahoo!, as the 800 lbs Web 1.0 gorilla, represents access to vast amounts of users and traffic that can be monetized. They have consistently placed themselves as a media company, even going so far as to hire traditional media mogul Terry Semel as their CEO. While recently deposed and replaced with interim CEO (and Yahoo! founder) Jerry Yang, Semel’s implemented strategy remains largely unchanged: Continue to ‘portalize’ their offerings and function as the entry point to the internet. If they can be the starting point after the conduit, they can commercialize or monetize the traffic they draw.

    Google and Amazon, both of whom have made a business connecting commerce and content, are each exploring ways to extend themselves out into the ether; providing services to better draw and convert traffic into dollars.

    Microsoft, Apple and Adobe are all engaged, in their own unique ways, in generating the mediums by with which the content and commerce connect with the conduit – i.e. the OS (Microsoft & Apple), the hardware (Apple and to a degree, Amazon), and Adobe (The rich-media platform).

    Finally, Verizon (along with Comcast, AT&T; and T-Mobile) in the US, along with major wireless and terrestrial providers around the globe are regarding themselves as the gatekeepers, and are beginning to recognize that access fee revenue (while perfunctory and profitable), are ultimately being threatened by commodification. They are seeking methods to monetize the traffic they deliver to content and commercial interests. This has led to the Net-Neutrality fight, and the rise of IPTV as a conduit.

    Microsoft is waiting and seeing, as is their way, ready to use their muscle when they need. They made a (as-yet-incomplete) play for Yahoo!, hoping the union of their Web 2.5 vision and Yahoo!’s Web 1.0 stability would lead to security in the marketplace. Google is pressing Verizon to make good on its wireless ambitions, knowing they’re in the best position to deliver next-generation services. Adobe is opening up itself to wireless and, yes, IPTV partners to secure its position as the content and commerce platform that can provide the richest end-user experience. and Apple? Well, as Cringley points out, they just want to control all three (consider the power of an Adobe-Apple-AT&T; version of Content-Commerce-Conduit trifecta).

    This ain’t over, by a long shot. A laissez faire marketplace assures us a competitive landscape. A consolidated 3-C landscape assures us that only those with the right relationships or the right value will reach consumers. Devices like the iPhone (mobile/pervasive access), the XBOX360 (IPTV/Terrestrial access), and Verizon’s proposed pervasive broadband network (upon which, of course, Google can deliver their own services), will ensure that these closed and semi-closed networks can control each of the 3 components of monetization. Moreover, they are seeking, in no small way, to dismiss the home-brew and open source communities.

    By locking down the networks, not only do they each control the flow of information, they are also seeking to control the flow of cash across the Content-Commerce-Conduit value chain.

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