The BBC vs. the newspaper industry on mobile

I posted to the Left Foot Forward blog earlier about the reaction of the Newspaper Publishers’ Association to the BBC expanding its portfolio of mobile applications. In the post I collated a number of reasons why I felt that the argument was moot:

  • The newspaper industry like its peers in other parts of the media industry is structurally ill-prepared to handle digital – from an organisational sense and a financial perspective mobile just won’t a big enough difference to stop the day of reckoning
  • Mobile devices like the Kindle and Sony Reader have had promising sales of hardware, but don’t seem to be providing the kind of returns that publishers were expecting
  • Media companies don’t seem to have done a particularly good job at leveraging their offline brands to build loyal online audiences, which has left a potential space for online-only media brands. How do these media companies then expect to be successful in mobile?

Time waits for no blogger and I had additional points that I wanted to expand upon and extend here.

The Nokia | Intel deal to partner on mobile Linux and Apple’s development of the iPhone | iPad series of devices are harbingers of a time when the traditional laptop workstation won’t be the dominant digital media access device. (Some writers describe this as post-PC, bt that phrase is a bit ridiculous because computing technologies tend not to disappear overnight. IBM still sells mainframes, high-powered workstations and mid-range servers that would be roughly equivalent to a mini-computer in terms of form and function.)

Mobile devices are mobile computers and will be ironically more capable of consuming ‘normal’ online media as well as the ‘specialist’ mobile media. This means that the premium-priced mobile content will have to compete with free eventually depressing margins. This already happens with RSS feeds read through services like Bloglines and Google Reader or an application like Shrook.

Silicon Alley Insider: Nobody wants to pay for entertainment online


Finally, I found Silicon Alley Insider’s chart of the day just that little bit too late to include it in the Left Foot Forward post. But it shows that the money isn’t likely to be on the table for many newspapers as consumers are reluctant to pay for news in a digital format.