April 4, 2007
What's Wrong With This Picture?
Anyone find it interesting how one thing always seems to lead to another? And it becomes doubly interesting when you can make a connection from two seemingly unrelated things. Not sure this post is related to the last comment, but it was the first thing that popped into my mind as I began writing this.
I am a self-admitted "trendseeker" (although you'd never know that by my fashion sense or lack of it).
I thought I was taking a break from reading a work related book when I began reading Bill Bryson's "Made In America". I expected to learn about the origin of words and phrases such as glitch (Yiddish for slip), phooey (another Yiddish contribution), stogie (cigar made in Conestoga, PA; also home of the Conestoga wagon), and slot machine (originally a flavored chewing gum dispenser) among others which I figured would give me a range of smalltalk opportunities at various NAB social activities (after all, you can only talk shop so long).
But the book is also a fascinating history of America (the history they don't teach in school). Among other things, he touches on the origins, adoption, and evolution of radio, movies, and television. For example, according to Bryson, in 1922 just 1 in 500 homes in the U.S. had a radio, by 1926 it was 1 in 20 and by the end of the decade market penetration was "nearly saturated". Radio sales went from $60M to $850M during this time period. In one year, stock in RCA went from $85.25 to $549 (keep in mind we are talking about 1920's $'s; before the crash). Bryson goes on to provide other fascinating tidbits of trivia about television and motion pictures.
The trends he cited got me thinking about history repeating itself and using the past to predict the future. I had planned to write a detailed analysis of the parallels between earlier media types and the explosion of media we are seeing. Not just about adoption rates, but also about the evolution of the content that is delivered via these mediums. But alas, I realized in order to make sure I got my thoughts organized and facts straight it would take more time than I can devote to this posting, and also that it would be best to probably break my thoughts up into more digestible chunks of info.
So what does this have to do with the title of this blog entry?
I was curious to know the adoption rates of broadband over the last decade, and in the course of seeking this out stumbled onto a recent state of the telecommunications industry presentation (pdf) that Kevin Martin, head of the FCC gave before congress recently. (text of his speech is here). Look at slide #3. Cable television seems to be the one telecommunications technology that has been able to avoid lowering the prices they charge consumers over the last decade (basic cable prices have almost doubled). I guess this was especially surprising to me because I don't have cable TV.
I believe that trend is about to change. I can't see the cable industry being able to continue to increase the prices they charge for basic cable access, especially as existing content owners like HBO, Showtime, etc...) begin putting their content online and that content makes it onto the screens not just in the den and living room, but also on portable devices. And the pressure will increase on the existing cable infrastructure as "microcasters" do to cable, what cable did to broadcast.
All healthy topics to debate/discuss as we head into what should be a very exciting NAB conference and tradeshow. More on what Bill Bryson got me thinking about later...