Today, my column in the print supplement considers who really gets the money when everyone’s using an electronic newspaper (something like the Kindle, but better). It seems to me that you’ll make more money being the owner of the distribution system than the content generator:
I know that we keep hearing that “content is king”. But considering my future self on an icy platform holding a Kindle aloft trying to get a wireless signal (for even my station out in the country has a paper shop offering Wi-Fi), I realised that it won’t be the content creators who’ll have the chokehold; it’ll be the controllers of the distribution channels. In other words, distribution, not content, is king.
Here’s why. If people stop buying papers and buy Kindles (and, of course, future e-book readers) instead, they’ll need to be able to feed them. They’ll do that at home in the morning via their broadband connection, or on the station platform (perhaps to get that very latest update with audio and video) via its Wi-Fi, or from a mobile network. The content sources are as vast as the web; the distribution sources, limited to telecoms companies. Without the latter, your Kindle or its kith and kin is just a pricey place to rest your morning coffee. You pay for your broadband. You pay (probably) for the Wi-Fi. You pay for the 3G connection.
After all, at its heart the internet is a distribution medium. Who wouldn’t want to own it?
All this came to me from two minutes using a Kindle. Honest.