Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It will all be free in the future

Do you remember the days when companies used to charge for personal email accounts? Ah, perhaps you are too young. Well in future a lot more is going to come your way for free. For a start, right now mobile phone calls are absurdly over-priced. If you have a local wifi network, then you can now use skype on your phone for free. This is only the start.
Good news for people in general: Mobile phone charges are about to collapse.
The bad news for mobile companies, their profits will follow the prices and then will come the bankruptcies.

The music industry is falling behind the times. They cannot stop the sharing of music files online. If gets shut down, then you'll find 10,000 other similar sites in 200 countries round the world taking their place. So, the future is free music for all. Revenue will come from concert sales. Giving away free music online is a way of advertising concerts.

Cable TV is coming to an end. Why pay for 100 channels on Cable, when there are millions available online for free. Pay-TV is on the way out. It just can't compete with the pirates who stream films and live sport for free. Watch out for more embedded advertising, for example 5 second ads in the middle of sports matches.

Film industry are powerless to stop web-users sharing films online and so DVD sales and revenue from TV will plummet. Similarly cinema attendance will drop as everyone will have access to films even before the official release date. But the bottom line is that people want to see films and the film industry wants to continue making them. The obvious solution is to have embedded advertising. If the major source of revenue is from product placement, then film-makers will no longer see file-sharing sites as the enemy, but rather as their friend. Of course I expect the film industry to fight the file-sharers for a while more, but sooner or later they'll realise that the war is over and they've lost. It is time to re-build the industry in this new barely recognisable land-scape.

Most of the current crop of commercial TV stations round the world will go bankrupt. A few will see the new technology as an opportunity and will thrive. But most will want to cling to the past, with middle aged management who harp back to the good old days. Round the world state supported TV stations will limp on with hand-outs and money forcefully taken from the populations in taxes and licence fees. Their viewing figures will plummet.

Morally I think that is objectionable to forcibly take a licence fee from someone. It is an abuse of power. On the other hand, sharing a file with my neighbour is so much more noble, even if I've never met him and he lives in Ulaanbaatar.

But for those who are interested in making money, there will still be plenty of oportunities, but things will be different and they'll need to be very adaptable.


  1. Why on earth do you have that gratuitous image of Ms Spears? Her photo is not needed and it is distracting.

  2. In the past lots of people wanted to be newspaper columnists. A tiny minority of them were given the opportunity to do so and were paid for their efforts. Now a days anyone can write a blog, but a really tiny number actually make any money from it and there is an increasing number of journalists writing pieces which are anti-internet. Their cash-cow has been taken away and they're up-set.