• An interesting post on one of my Linkedin groups this morning raised the question ‘ Can anyone hope to do business in the world today without an iPod/iPad?’

      So of course I contributed, but as occasionally happens, the piece decided to write itself, and on re-reading I found it had gone in a very interesting direction, so decided to reproduce it here.

      The interesting aspect of this discussion is the question of business use of the iPad/tablet/mobile devices, and we are on the threshold of this taking off.
      I must declare a vested interest – one of my clients is at the cutting edge of putting BI Apps onto iPad, and has attracted massive interest from the corporate sector by delivering the ability for anyone in a company, from CxOs downwards, to see real-time data and trends that affect their job, displayed on what many think of as a ‘consumer device’.
      iPad//iPhone are truly changing the paradigm of consumer / business adoption, because they are a consumer product that is being taken over by business. This is a major change, because if you look back over any technology revolution through history, from the wheel forward, you find that the impetus for its creation is either industrial or military – often coming together.
      The discussion rolled on with the moderator trying to re-focus to as his agenda was to find out about the uptake of iPad-specific newspapers. That led me onto think about the challenges of online news consumption.
      This is a very interesting discussion, especialy for publishers, and yes we do have one or two of those in our client portfolio –  as my  friends well know, I was heavily involved in one of Reed’s first forays into Electronic publishing eleventy years ago, and have banged on about it ever since.
      This week a debate on Radio 4 raised the same questions that I have been looking into – about how you  sell information against a market where sop much is free that its value becomes lost? IN the discussion, a very interesting statistic came out from the editor of  the New York Times, who commented that while 80% of its reader interaction now takes place online, 80% of its revenue still comes from the printed version.
      This is creating a major dilemma for media owners, of how to get people to pay for news. It’s also creating a conundrum for us consumers – why pay for journalism when you can get so much for free?
      But no-one wants to talk about the elephant in the room – if the likes of Murdoch and his clan can’t afford to carry the costs of e-publishing, then where lies the future of news?
      Or indeed for that matter where lies the future for any paid information? We are already seeing large scientific organisations reining in expenditure on library services, and outsourcing the decisions which the information from these services used to validate to third parties who take the risk on their behalf in return for higher rewards. The Internet has demolished local newspaper revenues in favour of eBay and Totaljobs.
      So who is going to pay the journalists when their work is no longer valued?
      In the UK we have the BBC, which does a fine job, but it is increasingly being accused of political bias, yet they are the primary source of news and entertainment information for a significant chunk of the population – I heard a figure that somewhere in the region of 30% of UK internet users take some feed from the BBC.
      This of course gives succour to the BC’s paymasters, HM Treasury who can see there is a valid reason for continuation of the licence fee. It also gives it the ability to ensure a steady flow of news that shows them in a good light, and whole the present government could hardly be accused of influencing the BBC output, most of which is downright hostile to the coalition, the previous incumbents had an extremely easy ride from a largely sympathetic editorial team.
      The lack of commercial benefit raises another question – Will it mean that the Internet, rather than liberating us from the monopolies of a few press barons, will actually re-shape the future of ‘proper’ news, i.e. the type that involves a journalists researching a story, validating it and then reporting it, to inevitably fall into the hands of the state?
      What value citizen journalism if no-one has the financial resource to publish it?