Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Predictions: The next WAVE's

I "get" Google+ now. It took me a minute because I forgot how Google thinks - they're in this for the long haul now, and that requires longer horizons. That stream interface that looks kinda like Facebook? That's just the transition - something familiar to make you comfortable. Underneath, it's WAVE.

"Hangouts" are the future here - it's what WAVE was before everyone signed up. WAVE is silly and useless without *everybody* there at the same time. Google knew what we wanted before we knew we wanted it. We rejected WAVE for many reasons, and I blame Google for not managing that very well - it could have been much more successful, IMHO. But Hangouts are here now, and they'll only get bigger and more capable. uStream and its ilk had better see the writing on the wall.

Mobile & Apps:
The future of almost everything. ("Website designers" take note - your days are numbered. Start retraining *now*.) Facebook is eating the lunch of traditional .com sites, especially if you used to build brochure sites for small businesses. Those days are GONE, replaced by the now-ubiquitous Facebook pages. And even Facebook is morphing into an infrastructure and advertising/market research company - that's why they'll continue to build high-quality mobile apps.

We're in uncharted cultural territory here. Some of the biggest brands in traditional media have been reduced to tiny icons that we scroll past on our way to Angry Birds. Those icons are the same size as Facebook *and* Yelp and, etc... y'know, the things that help your life by saving TIME and giving you tons of good information. Or entertainment.

Musicians future is not on Bandcamp or Soundcloud or any of those 'free' music community clones - it's apps. The tools to build your own mobile app are mere months away. You won't need to be a programmer - but you will need some basic sense of flow, and having a competent graphics guru around will help immensely. You're a musician, you have a community of these people around you already, yes??

Subscriptions via those apps are your income future. $1/mo will be the magic price, although it will take months/years for everyone to figure it out. Can we find 100 people to pay us $1 month? A thousand people? Can we produce something worth that every month? I know *I'm* motivated to...

Film and "television"
Apps are their future, too. HBO has an app for subscribers that allows you to download content directly to your phone. My mobile happens to have an HDMI port, which means I can download my HBO shows and watch them on-demand. What's that - HBO basically gave me a DVR on my mobile that's connected to their (growing) library of amazing stuff?? Where do I sign up for this??

Oh, I have to buy a cable subscription? Fuck that - I want it ala carte. I just want to pay my $5 or $10/mo and be able to LEGALLY watch episodes of HBO shows. And I'm going to get it, too. Because that's the future, and whoever brings that to the table first WINS!

It won't be Netflix- their tombstone is already cast. They're just a licensing company now, anyway - one with a great DVD logistics system, but mailing shiny discs can't have that much longer of a life. And 'streaming?' The rights holders are going to want that money, and it won't cost them much to get their own subscriptions running. Sure, there's room for a couple clearinghouses - HULU and Netflix could fill that role as licensing intermediary, but that just makes them kind of a Harry Fox for moving picture.

HBO and Showtime had it right all along: get people on board to keep paying for excellent/astonishing work, and you can have longevity. Subscriptions were always their model, and now they're everyone's model.

Go find your flock.