Posts Tagged ‘Mobile’

Life’s a Derailment: On Train Wrecks, Social Media and Language

May 20, 2013

Metro North pass from New Haven to New York.

Metro North pass from New Haven to New York.

Last week’s train wreck in Bridgeport, Conn. literally and figuratively hit close to home. Since moving to Hartford last August, I’ve become a de facto part time New Yorker. I’ve probably ridden the New Haven to Grand Central Terminal Metro-North line and back close to 40 times. In fact, I took that same Metro North line into The City on Thursday afternoon, about 24 hours before the two trains collided. If a colleague from Georgia had not invited me to a Yankees game on Saturday I could have just as easily been on one of the trains that got derailed. As it was, the only thing that got derailed were my return plans. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share a few observations from my 80 hours in New York this past weekend.

SLOMO: There are different cute acronmyns like “SLOMO” to describe the current era of (news?) media as one that should focus on Social, Local and Mobile. This focus bore out during the train crash. I first learned of news of the Connecticut train collision on Friday afternoon through a push notification to my iPhone through my Associated Press (AP) Mobile APP. One of the ways journalists use social media is to find local sources for a given topic. Over the weekend, I saw numerous tweets from my local newspaper, the Hartford Courant, looking for Connecticut residents who regularly commute to New York for work willing to speak with a reporter for a story he was working on. I first learned about cancellations in train service from New York to New Haven (and all the way to Boston) through Metro North’s Twitter account (it was a retweet of an Amtrak announcement). Social? Check. Local? Check. Mobile? Check.

User-Generated Content: A group of teenagers were skateboarding at the nearby Rampage skateboard park when the two trains collided. They skated to the scene of the wreck and recorded the powerful footage of the crash you see below (warning: foul language). Many news outlets reported and linked to this footage, as is common to supplement traditional reporting with so-called user-generated content (UGC), particularly for breaking news stories.

Language and Word Choice Matters: My first 48 hours in New York were wonderful. I went to an excellent panel discussion on excellence in television at the Paley Center, reconnected with former students and colleagues from the University of Georgia, had drinks with my favorite Bloomberg reporter and explored new areas of the city in three Boroughs (walked the High Line in Manhattan, visited the Museum of Moving Images in Queens and took in the sunset at DUMBO in Brooklyn). The rest of the weekend went poorly. My friend’s flight got delayed so I went to the Yankees game solo. The Friday derailment left me semi-stranded and scrambling to find a way home. This meant I had to miss graduation at the University of Hartford on Sunday so I was deprived seeing my students’ crowning achievement and celebrating a wonderful year with colleagues. And it rained all day Sunday. When people asked how my weekend went, I found myself starting to respond with a phrase like “oh, it was a train wreck.” Or “it was a disaster.” But in light of an actual disaster of a train wreck, such common hyperbole that we use in our everyday language seems silly and ridiculous. The reality is I just had a bad day. Plain and simple.

Roll with the Punches: Even the best laid plans can go to waste. I took an Amtrak train from Hartford to New Haven and then hopped onto Metro North. After the train wreck (the real one), I was no longer able to get back to New Haven on Sunday to catch my return trip on Amtrak back to Hartford. No graduation for me. I was one of the hundreds? thousands? of folks in New York whose means out of the city were disrupted. I had to scramble to get a late bus back to Hartford. My Georgia colleague’s flight to New York got delayed so he had to miss the Yankees game. As work was being done on the Subway stop where I was staying, I had to figure out how to navigate the New York subway system. I didn’t see everyone I wanted to. I didn’t do everything I wanted to do. But in the end that’s life. Life is full of tiny derailments. We laugh about it. Smile about it. Find a new way home. And move on.

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Wireless devices disrupt newspapers

October 4, 2011

“The faster the disruption of print by tablet happens, the faster newspaper owners can jettison print expenses and get closer to sustainable (but not yet proven) mainly-digital business models.”

-Ken Doctor, newsonomics blog post

Newspaper executives and industry observers are starting to pay attention to two significant developments that are altering their business: disruption and the continued emergence of wireless mobile devices (specifically smartphones and tablet devices).

In a blog post on “the newsonomics of disruption,”  digital news analyst Ken Doctor writes about tablet disruption of tablet, tablet disruption of laptops, tablet disruption of smartphones and most importantly, local news disruption and tablet news disruption.

“Digital disruption is now increasing,” according to Doctor. “Audiences are even more up for grabs than they were a couple of years ago. Advertising and sponsorship dollars, pounds and euros, are also being more greatly swayed by these disruptive winds than they were in 2009.”

In an article first published in Editor & Publisher and republished on his Reflections of a Newsosaur blog, Alan Mutter writes that “publishers have not failed to embrace disruptive experimentation because they are not smart enough to do so. The video embedded below (note: also embedded on this blog) is proof that the folks at Knight Ridder in 1994 had a pretty good idea of what the future might hold. But the newspaper business historically was so successful that publishers didn’t need, or want, to change much about it. Consequently, risk-taking and experimentation took a back seat to business as usual. ”

“With print circulation and advertising revenues falling to ever-lower lows for each of the last five years, newspapers now must find new ways to cost-effectively create content; build new web, mobile and social audiences, and monetize their traffic as profitably as Facebook and Google do,” Mutter continues. “To do that, they will have to bring the creative chaos of Silicon Valley into every corner of their businesses. This means launching multiple, carefully planned initiatives across the full array of print and digital media.”

These newspaper disruptions brought on by wireless mobile devices is precisely what I’m looking at for my dissertation.  I’m interested not only in the disruption to newspaper business models, but what publishers are doing about it.  A good headline for an article about my work would be “Wireless devices disrupt newspaper business models, publishers respond.”

Here’s a brief summary of my ongoing dissertation research:

Firms are now operating in hypercompetitive, emergent, dynamic, unstable, highly volatile environments in which a sustained competitive advantage may no longer be possible.  Disruptive innovation (disruption) may alter not only business models, but the strategic processes used to address the disruption.

Disruptive innovation can either disrupt or sustain a firm or industry either through business model innovations or radical product innovations.  There is not one clear definition for business models, but revenue streams and consumer values are vital to most business-model concepts.  Circulation revenue and advertising in print have long made up the traditional newspaper business model now being disrupted by the Internet and mobile devices. Whereas the Internet served as the first wave of disruption to newspaper business models, wireless mobile devices represent a second wave of disruption.

Newspapers are now experimenting with emerging models for online and mobile content, but have a history of failing to act on risk-taking experimentation that brings about change even though companies like Knight Ridder designed a futuristic tablet nearly two decades ago that closely resembles today’s iPad, and other newspaper companies commissioned a group to address disruption.  Wireless mobile devices have emerged as a critical news delivery platform and offer potential to newspapers at the same time as they continue to disrupt existing newspaper business models.

The highly uncertain “emergent” disrupted environment, characterized by evolving business models, unclear industry boundaries, new competitors and consumer preferences that are not well known, can have a dramatic impact on the managerial process of newspaper managers.  Newspaper managers’ decision speed, participation, comprehensiveness, and perceptions of the environment can affect the business model implemented to address business model innovation in order to gain a competitive advantage.  My dissertation explores these internal strategy processes newspaper executives are using to develop strategies and tactics to address mobile disruption.

 

The Future of Media

April 20, 2010

The future of media may well be in your hands.  I’m talking, of course, about mobile devices.

For a variety of reasons, consumers and businesses alike appreciate the new opportunities mobile either offers, or will offer, distributors and consumers of media content.

Mobile devices offer users personalization, portability and constant connectivity, the ability to socialize and share content, interactivity, participation, and engagement.  Mobile devices offer media distributors the ability to provide these features to users, but also the potential to provide unique, geo-targeted, local, community-focused, monetizable content for all of its clients (readers/viewers/listeners and advertisers).

With mobile devices poised to be a “game changer” for news and entertainment industries in the near future, there was little surprise that “mobile” was a focal point of discussions at the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual convention and the Broadcast Education Association conference, both held last week in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I attended many sessions where mobile was front and center.  Mobile offers exciting new areas for entertainment (Mobile DTV, smartphone apps), as well as newspapers, radio and television news, and for advertisers.

I’ll report a few highlights from some of the managerial-oriented sessions, where business models, monetization and strategy were key themes.

“The mobile device has the opportunity to reset the revenue models because the ability to do the transactions on a mobile device is very seamless, it’s very easy,” said Greg Philpott, president and founder of mDialog, which has built an ad platform to monetize HTML-5 videos.

Mobile gives individuals the ability to have their own screen wherever they are, Philpott said.

Mobile devices will allow content owners to charge advertisers a higher CPM that’s trackable, actionable and measurable, Philpott predicted.

Bob Hildeman, CEO of Streambox, said that said media outlets still face a challenge getting consumers willing to pay for content.

Media outlets are still grappling with how to do so, but many believe consumers are better conditioned to pay for content on their phone, than they are online.

“We’re growing this audience but we’re not monetizing it,” said Lance Richard, Entercom Communications’ vice president of digital sales for over 110 radio stations and their Web sites in 23 media markets. “We’ve got to figure that piece out… A lot of our focus is figuring out how to monetize that stream.”

Advertising revenue should grow on mobile devices, said Tom Kenney, president of Verve Wireless, which designs mobile news applications for many leading news agencies.

“Mobile advertising now is starting to take off,” Kenney said. ” The thesis behind Verve is that the mobile Web is a new medium and could potentially be the most important medium in a few years and ultimately it’s a local (emphasis mine) medium.”

The idea of consuming digital media with your hands is such a transformation from the norm that providing similar experiences on multiple platforms is going to be key for media outlets going forward, said Kinsey Wilson, senior vice president and general manager of digital media for the not-for-profit NPR.

NPR’s Web site won a  prestigious Peabody Award (housed at my University I might add!)  for general excellence this year and their app for the iPhone and iPad are constantly ranked by users as being one of the best smartphone apps for news.  Mobile devices allow for media outlets to strategically shift their offerings from platform to platform.  While NPR does offer live streams of their radio programs on the apps, written breaking news headlines are the most popular feature, Wilson said.

Overall, media outlets face a shifting environment in which smartphones will outpace the sales of desktops by 2011, according to IT firm Gartner.

Futurist Tomi Ahonen posits that mobile is the 7th medium following print, recordings, cinema, radio, TV, and Internet.

At the end of 2009, two thirds of the world’s population were using mobile phones, according to the European Information Technology Observatory.

There are now more mobile devices in the world than there are TVs, radios, and computers.

While there are many remaining questions about the mobile strategies media outlets will choose to implement, one thing is clear.  The future of media is one you can hold onto.