With the tidal

By Sean Reily on January 26, 2010 0 Comments Ideas

Sean Reily, 2009-2010 FellowDavid Cohn, 2010-2011 Fellow

With the tidal wave of buzz about how the fledgling E Reader world is going to be rocked by Apple’s announcement of a tablet device this Wednesday (January 27), I find it pleasantly surprising that it’s “Wall Street" and my son Rory, and not Apple, that’s reminded me where the future of news delivered on E Readers truly lies.

That’s "Wall Street" the 1987 movie, not the financial center.

The first time I watched Wall Street with my son was on DVD and he loved it.  He was totally captivated by the world of high stakes finance and arbitrage practiced by Michael Douglas playing Gordon Gekko.  Then the movie comes to one particular scene where Gekko is walking at sunrise on the beach before his Hamptons’ estate, conducting business over the phone.  This is where my son starts howling with laughter to the point where I stop the DVD because any future viewing is pointless till he catches his breath and asks “what is that thing?”  He’s asking about what Gekko is holding to his ear, which is close to the size of a shoebox.

That thing, I explain, is a cell phone, or the equivalent to what a cell phone was in 1987.  That was state of the art then.  A tool of the power brokers and filthy rich like Gekko, as the rest of us commoners were still tethered at the time.

The E Reader tie in to this is that as important as the Amazon Kindle is as the first device to validate the long-in-the-waiting belief that one day masses will get their reading from portable handheld screens and not from paper – and as revolutionary as we will find the coming Apple iSlate (or whatever it will be called), the E Reading / tablet technology of tomorrow will evolve faster than the device manufacturers are coming onto the market today.  And each new technology innovation will in too short a time be rendered as innovative as that shoebox to Gekko’s head.

While it is essential that news creators stay informed and ahead in what this evolving technology can offer in content distribution and commerce, it would be a major mistake for them to let the continued technology leaps and dazzle, and then adapting to that, to be a main hope and focus.

Now more than ever, news creators need their first focus to be on unique, quality content creation and on the positioning and awareness of that content within this rapidly, wildly evolving technology world.  With the evolution of E Readers and tablets, readers will have exponentially more choices for content packaged in more ways than ever before.  While this new technology might offer new business potential, for those content creators that don’t make quality and unique their first priority, like what happened with the internet, these technologies will only serve to dismantle them quicker as readers leave for all their newly discovered choices.

When Gekko was walking that beach in the Hamptons, he knew his business was the content he was relaying over that shoebox phone and not the technology in that shoebox itself.

More sobering, even if a news creator gets so far that they have quality and unique content positioned well on an E Reader or tablet, as of today there is still no sufficiently viable business model to deliver them a return.  That is evolving as well, just much more slowly.

Stay tuned.

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