Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Industries die.

I'm mad at the cable and phone companies. They both seem to be making enemies of their customers these days. The lack of competition allows them both to overcharge for their shoddy services.

The latest is limiting the availability of streaming video. AT&T has limited data plans to 2 Gb per month, which pretty much means you're not watching videos unless you're on WiFi. Almost any currently running TV show (not on a premium channel) can be seen online, with fewer commercials and at any time. But if you tried to watch streaming video on your TV (via Boxee or Google TV, for example), they block it.

They're trying to hold on to the past, and it's not going to work. They want to keep charging us for cable TV, so they're resisting new technology. They're inadvertently promoting illegal content trading (torrents).

Remember Napster? I could rip a CD I owned onto a computer and play it. Fantastic! And once I had that mp3 file, I could even share it with a friend! Or millions of them, thanks to Napster. The record companies got mad and started prosecuting, and Apple opened up its iTunes store. They saw a need and filled it, making tons of money. Now people don't bother illegally downloading music (much).

Here's another need: A video library hosted in the cloud. Netflix has a good handle on the market already, with its library of old TV seasons and movies available streaming. Its library is growing, and it is available for computers and TVs (through various boxes or internet-connected TVs) alike. And it's even a reasonable price! But how to watch current season shows? This is where they're holding out.

Industries die.

Remember Napster again? Whatever happened to Napster? They're still out there, but they charge now, and there's plenty of competition.

Newspapers are feeling the hurt right now too. It's not too hard to imagine a future where there's no daily newspaper, and in its place is online news.

Railroads used to be the way to travel, but they've been replaced by highways and rails to trails. Sad? Maybe.

Going back even farther, the cotton industry still exists, but slaves don't. Textile mills, steamboats, stone masons, blacksmiths, etc. Maybe these industries aren't dead, but they're certainly not thriving like they once did.

Don't be sad about it.

Sure, if you're the Cable Guy, you can try to fight it, but chances are that eventually you're going to be looking for work. Instead of fighting it, embrace it, and try to figure out how you fit into the changing industry. If your job is to fix the wires that bring us HBO, maybe you should look into how to fix other kinds of wires (telephone? fiber-optic? 4G wireless?).

Cable companies themselves need to do the same. Instead of fighting it, learn to make money off of it. Make your own box, or make a deal with the existing ones. Make an app and charge for it. Let me subscribe to certain shows, certain channels, or your whole channel list. Play commercials during your shows. You can still take advantage of your customers on the internet. Just do it smarter and stop being dicks.

No comments:

Post a Comment