What is Content, and Where Will it Come From?

Keynote at IMTC Member Meeting, October 8, 2007

There are old models, new models, and blended models. We think about IPTV as “Cable with a fancy remote control.” We think about YouTube as “Home movies on a really small screen.” Just as in the old days, some of the “home movies” have production values equaling or sometimes exceeding professional productions. Of great interest are the experimental, independent productions that come up with wholly new ways of creating content.

We can create fully interactive experiences, where people can progressively: comment on content, annotate content, appropriate content, and create new content. Some outcomes of this environment were anticipated, such as the serendipitous discovery of profitable, popular content. Likewise, we expected the use of Internet technology to economically address micro-niches (the long-tail effect). Moreover, with the penetration of broadband, we have extended our linear message boards, blogs, wikis and lists into fully immersive, interactive, real-time 3-D communities.

Content has moved beyond images, music, and movies. In our converged world, applications have become a new content. Whether they are Web widgets or Second Life constructions, users are creating active content more and more.

To date, in spite of the fact that almost all of the above-mentioned technologies were created years or decades ago, mostly in the research labs of telecommunications companies, the companies bringing these technologies to market are, for the most part, startups. In this address, I will look at the industry structure of the communications market to examine why this has been so in the past, why it is a symptom of well-run companies, and what established companies can do to address this market.

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