Crovitz: In Media Consumers Have it Better than Business

Former Wall Street Journal publisher Gordon Crovitz’ inaugural commentary for the paper today repeats a fair amount of what he told the Chicago School of Business last month : that James Rothschild was annoyed over how the telegraph leveled the information playing field (and that we tend to overestimate technology’s effect in the short-run, and underestimate it long-run. (Witness the initial hype over the Web at first, and how it’s now part of daily life with little fanfare.)

But a lot of what he said at the CSB speech -- a thoughtful analysis of today’s media landscape -- wasn’t in the column and bears repeating. One crucial point he made was that B2B information applications now often lag behind consumer ones. Consumer-focused products tend to have better interfaces and applications than the high-priced business and financial services ones. He calls this a “real challenge for the B2B industry, which has so far been less affected by the digital age than B2C.”

“Much of the innovation is based on the broad consumer market,” B2C rather than the B2B market, he says. This is a see change. It’s been a given that people pay handsomely for business-oriented information, and get real value from it. But Crovitz notes that financial professionals with high-priced terminals at their desks today will often turned to Yahoo Finance. This movement has big implications for B2B information providers.

Other points he makes:

* Subscription plus ad revenue “works very well” as a revenue model. (In other words, the WSJ is smart to have subscriptions and ads; new owners News Corp., of course, considered doing away with them.
* Software and information are more powerful together than separate. “Information and software are more closely linked and mutually dependent than ever before. Changes in each affect the other. “The great changes in computing power” have shifted the information industry, changes in information have affected software..
* Neither content nor distribution is king: the consumer is.

No comments: