Replacement cycles

One of the things I periodically try to emphasize involves standards (and in particular, web standards). Dating back to "Context first", I've asserted that “content must become open, accessible and interoperable.  Adherence to standards will not be an option.” For a 2011 presentation for OCLC, I added:

The current proliferation of file formats, rights management schemes and device-specific content is unlikely to persist.  Content consumers – readers – will increasingly look for content that can be accessed across multiple platforms on a real-time basis.

Content access may be provided through cloud-based services, and the bulk of what we currently think of as book sales may migrate from product to subscription sales.  But, much as professionals look for standard interfaces in database products that they buy today, readers will want and come to expect similar interoperability in the content they acquire (or lease).

Because my consulting practices focuses on improving workflows, I'm aware of how hard it can be for publishers to adjust from a single format – print for magazines and books – to a multitude of devices and platforms. Often enough, I'm asked to predict which of those devices or platforms will prevail.

There may be a crystal ball out there (and if there is, I am willing to bet Horace Dediu controls it), but more often that not I come across posts like "After crowning Samsung as Apple's heir, analysts now rethinking their math" [do note that it appeared on Apple Insider].

According to the report, in a period of months, Samsung had been named a successor to Apple's iPhone, only to be deposed as early sales projections proved overly optimistic. Samsung could rally, of course, as could others, but the variability underscores my initial point: standards matter.

There can be exceptions. I've seen a successful medical journal optimize for iPhone because the overwhelming majority of its readers were tied to Apple's iOS. But smartphone contracts last two years, sometimes less, and cell numbers are portable.

Replacement cycles mean that a decision that made sense in 2011 can start to look creaky in 2013. That's why I think a more open, accessible and interoperable approach gives publishers the best shot at retaining a competitive edge.

Brian O'Leary

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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