Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
umair haque  


Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Unintended Consequences

OK. Here is the absolute coolest (and most hilarious) example of unintended consequences I've seen in a while. Let's think strategically about the MPAA's plan to scan for 'pirates' in cinemas by having ushers wear night-vision goggles.

There are many kinds of 'bootlegs' of movies - these are different quality goods in a parallel market. The most notorious of these is the 'camera print' - a bootleg made by someone sitting in the cinema with a cheap handicam. The others may lack different features, like 5.1 audio tracks, or subtitles, etc, etc. But the camera print is the lowest-quality good on the market.

Now, even if it succeeds, the MPAA's plan is going to backfire. That's because it pushes the lowest quality good out of the market - pushing the average quality of a bootleg way up. Think about it: on average, if I buy a bootleg, it's less and less likely to be a camera print. Because the average quality of a bootleg rises, the number of people who are willing to buy bootlegs grows: the bootleg market expans.

I find the strategic ignorance of the old dudes in charge of our media industries absolutely mind-blowing. I mean, it doesn't take a genius to figure this out. If they really wanna kill the 'piracy' market, all the MPAA needs to is make sure that people can bootleg NOTHING BUT camera prints - ensuring that the bootleg market is of such bad quality, no one in their right mind buys one.

-- umair // 10:47 AM // 0 comments


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