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

Monday, November 19, 2007

Research Note: Making Publishing Plastic

Plasticity is something I talk about a lot. It means the ability to remix stuff - to let it be unbundled and rebundled.

Plasticity is important because it's a new source of value creation in a world where older ones are decaying - it can lead players out of value plateaus, and to explosive productivity gains.

All of which is why Google offering the ability to remix and print your own magazines is going to be death-star level disruptive. Google will combine it with a few market mechanisms - one for ads, one for publishers, maybe one for distributors/retailers (ie kiosks)

And a whole new publishing value chain suddenly springs to life.

Now that is...kind of jaw-droppingly awesome. It's a textbook example of edge strategy - it absolutely couldn't be bettered. Decision-makers should study and discuss it to death - and contrast it with Kindle's non-strategy.

You know, I hate to say it, but the sheer elegance and economic validity of Google's ideas are things of beauty.

Most competitors really don't have any hope - at least not without new DNA. Yahoo, Microsoft, NBC, EMI, insert incumbent here - they're not just dominated - the enormous gap in innovative capacity means they're irrelevant - as insignificant to Google as a tiny bug is to a very big shoe.

-- umair // 12:39 PM // 3 comments


Umair, I am not sure if this works. Surely, one of the rules of the edgeconomy is also 'simple beats complex'. How does customizing a magazine's content stack up against that? You can choose from templates but then how predictable would the end product become? Where will the serendipity, the freshness of unexpected discovery come from? We can argue that the magazine industry, barring a few, long stopped delivering THAT kind of value - but then this offers no solution either. The same stale content in any context (for that's where the plasticity lies) would still be stale old content. And for heaven's sake - WHY would anyone want to PRINT a magazine if you have the contents online? etc etc etc.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 3:18 PM

hey anon,

that's a good comment.

simple > complex is *almost* one of the rules, but that's for another time :)

if i could get a remixed magazine with, for example, media coverage from the economist/ft/wsj/nyt/etc...i would print it every day and read it on the way to work.

that's a small example.

but the point isn't that there's a killer service - rather, it's that goog has a new, hyperefficient value chain through which to *experiment with* radical new services in the first place.

see the diff?

competitors get it *backwards* - product/service first, economics later.

of course, it never works out - because you need the raw stuff there in place first.

this is essentially whats killing video/tv/news/apparel/etc...
// Blogger umair // 3:59 PM

Umair, let's make it really exciting, disruptive, and plastic. Forget the advertising. The first thing I do when I get a magazine is rip out all the annoying stiff cards so I can read it in piece without it flopping open to something I don't want to see.

Whether it's Google, or a magazine delivered via Kindle or its Kin, I'll pay extra to see the magazine without ads. I'll pay just what my impressions are worth, perhaps even twice that. The total is not expensive for me, and it is hugely profitable to the content owners. Only the lame advertisers are unhappy.

More on my blog:


// Anonymous Bob Warfield // 4:45 PM
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