We have seen it time and again in business and in society as a whole. If you force someone to change their behavior for whatever reason, they will fight back. They will resist what does not come naturally, and they will hate you for pushing this change on them. Lots of them will simply look for a new alternative that will allow them to keep up the status quo.
Governments can force corporations to change the way they act by enforcing new laws and taxes and business activities. And those businesses that can afford to do so, will fight back.
Companies can force consumers to change by reinventing a product or service that we have come to know. Many times customers will fight the change, because it is new, and look for any way to get the products that they are already used to.
Companies can force their competitors to change by shifting the way their industry behaves or creating a new model for success. And those business that find themselves behind struggle to turn things around. They fight the innovators, claiming that they are cheating or that they’re wrong. They fight with politicians to get some protection. And they fight with their own customers to avoid losing them (see if that makes sense).
Enter the printing industry in all their luster. Enter newspapers and magazines and major publishers. Enter paid content providers.
We are in the midst of a content revolution. Advertising markets are down everywhere you look. Major media companies that have relied on newspaper and magazine circulation to thrive are losing money in a hurry. People don’t want to pay for their information, and advertisers don’t want to pay not to be seen anymore.
Too many online content providers are succeeding in a free model system. The issue is that the publications that have been around and successful for so long as pay services don’t know how to react. So most of them fight the change. They ask the government for help. They ask consumers to make difficult choices. And they spend all day firing back at those free content providers that have made it work.
Publishers are being forced to change, and because of that, they are fighting that change. It’s time to rethink distribution, rethink salaried reporters, rethink free vs. paid models, and rethink consumer behavior.
I can get free information on technology and small businesses via TechCrunch, on business and investing via Bloomberg, on the law via Above the Law. They have made free information work by making money on other ventures or in other ways. They are valuable to me, more valuable to advertisers, and they are winning.
Change has come.