Journalist and digital strategist Nic Newman was world editor of the BBC News website from 1997-2001. He is currently a visiting fellow at Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, as well as a digital media consultant, speaker and trainer at Nic Newman and Associates. Here, he shares his predictions in the areas of journalism, media and tech for 2012.
TV disruption starts right here
Looking to shake up the cozy world of the broadcasters and cable companies are the new cut the cord aggregators. For Google and Netflix, it is about using broadband as a Trojan horse to build a presence within existing platforms and as an add-on to existing devices. Apple’s play—if it comes—will surely be something even more ambitious; to break the mold and change the end-to-end process entirely.
Digital first Olympics
With great fanfare, the BBC will be covering every twist and turn of London 2012. On top of the traditional “sofa and stars” coverage there’ll be 24 additional live video channels— HD quality, pausable, rewindable, multiplatform. But these are not television channels; they are online only streams receivable through any device that can connect in this way—smart TVs, set top boxes, mobile phones, tablets. This is the Internet doing grown-up industrial-scale television delivery— and being taken seriously. It will be a tipping point for television executives and for many viewers who might just configure those smart TVs and set top boxes to unlock more of their potential.
Tablets, ultraportables and e-books
The iPad is set to remain the market leader—boosted by the arrival of the thinner and sleeker iPad 3 in the spring— but may be given a run for its money this year. Amazon and Apple are now head to head in offering complete end-to-end ecosystems—devices, shops, app stores and storage—with others playing catch-up.
Partly as a response to tablets, laptops are also getting another makeover with the arrival of the “ultrabook.” Intel and its partners are pushing to make them 40% of the laptop market by the end of this year. Ultrabooks…are thinner and lighter than existing laptops with longer battery life and the added benefit of instant start-up thanks to solid state drives. And an extra twist will see a number of these with detachable screens that turn into Windows 8 tablets.
The future of the book
The publishing industry has been busy repositioning hardbacks with even more focus on physicality and elegant design. Publishers are looking to learn the lessons from the music industry in working constructively with aggregators on pricing while maximizing new physical opportunities.
Smartphones get bigger, more powerful and better connected
One driver of the next upgrade cycle will be the arrival of broadband mobile Internet (4G). LTE (long-term evolution) is around 10 times faster than today’s HSDPA technology and also works more effectively on the move. This will enable richer video services such as mobile TV—along with a host of richer Internet applications.
Also expect mobile payment systems to take a leap forward in 2012. Near-field communication (NFC) is the technology that lets you wave a phone at the checkout instead of a credit card, but there is much to be done before that vision becomes reality. It’s the next big battleground—with credit card companies under pressure from newcomers like Google and Apple and with operators banding together to get a share of the pie with their own system.
Social media and the hunt for relevance
With almost everyone now on the social bandwagon, it looks as if this could be the year for a major backlash—or at least some more critical thinking. The introduction of sponsored stories, the extension of the open graph and the arrival of frictionless sharing—passive updates to the timeline around news and music—has already led to concerns that users are being bombarded with irrelevant information, creating more noise than filter.
Overall, Twitter ended the year looking more like Facebook, Facebook looked more like Twitter and Google+ took inspiration from both. What all this boils down to is a consolidation around three key platforms for brands and publishers to work with. Content needs to be fed in a more efficient and targeted way, conversations need to be managed in an integrated way and costs and revenues to be balanced. There is also a need for more original social strategies as a counterbalance to the growing power of the big three.
The business of journalism
After years of putting off the inevitable, the news industry has begun to implement radical changes to its business models, workflows and distribution strategies. Expect to see more metered paywalls for some, digital first strategies for others and further print slimming and cost cutting across the board.
An alternative vision for saving newspapers comes from John Paton, CEO of The Journalist Register and Media News Group in the United States. His core message is not just to put digital first but print last—getting rid of executives steeped in newsprint and replacing them with digital ones. He advocates harnessing the power of the cloud and of the crowd—opening up journalism and newsrooms in the process. Expect more slimming down of print through 2012.
Advertising and marketing
Zenith media reported US Internet spending 12.6% up on the year compared with another sharp decline for print (8.6% fall for newspapers). In the UK digital advertising spend was up 11.6% driven by Facebook, You Tube and increasing interest in video on demand in general. Projections for next year show substantial further investment into video advertising, mobile and tablets with money being reallocated from TV and print budgets.
(Excerpted from www.themediabriefing. com/resource/journalism- media-and-technology-predictions- 2012-by-nic-newman)
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