The end of the world as we’ve known it … but not just yet

January saw the publication of consultancy firm Deloitte’s annual TMT (Technology, Media and Telecommunications) predictions. Three publications are available for free download in each of the three component areas of the firm’s practice. Whilst generally long on assertion and anecdote and somewhat shorter on detailed evidence, the reports are aimed at ‘starting or stoking a particular conversation’ rather than stopping it, according to lead TMT Partner Jolyon Barker. Of particular interest for me in the Media Predictions report is the more measured approach Deloitte is taking to some of the hyperbolic debates over trends and business models in this area: for example, online vs TV advertising; prospects for e-readers; buzz over 3D TV; the reality of TV/web integration. This is refreshing. It’s not a wholesale ‘out with the old and in with the new’ conclusion, but a recognition that the future of media business models and promotional mechanisms is much more complex and nuanced. The notion that ‘linear’s got legs’ (linear watching of TV according to schedules, rather than wholesale on demand through such vehicles as the BBC iPlayer) is an especially interesting discussion. And the fightback of publishing through the introduction of pay walls and micropayments (although the jury is still out on their acceptability) is also an analysis worth reading.

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Broadband or bust?

The link between broadband in use and enhanced economic performance is now unambiguous (see Table 12.1 in the textbook) In markets where mass-market broadband is introduced, there is more rapid growth in employment, in the number of businesses overall, and in businesses in IT-intensive sectors, relative to comparable communities without broadband technology. But is speed the thing rather than penetration? A recent compilation of data by the OECD placed the UK, for example, as a middle-ranking 21st in the speed stakes. It called for more investment, especially in fibre. This was confirmed by some work commissioned by CISCO here at Oxford’s Said Business School. But today also saw the publication of OfCOM’s update of its international telecommunications comparison data. Proudly, OfCOM boasts that we are enjoying the cheapest prices for broadband and mobile, we’ve also increased our TV viewing at a faster rate than anyone else, and our online advertising is world-leading, but it also confirmed that only 10% of UK homes could connect to the Internet at over 8 megabits a second, compared with 37% in the Netherlands.

Location, location, location

Two developments in the market now mean that location-based e-business services are now ripe for development. These are the growth of GPS capability in handsets and the exponential growth of free of cheap downloadable third party applications and mobile web interfaces being designed increasingly as part of an integrated go-to-market package, rather than as an afterthought or experiment by firms. Analysts Gartner estimate that some 29% of new phone handsets will include GPS in 2009. And at the time of writing, some 100,000 applications have been developed in the iPhone App Store with over 2bn total downloads.

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