BoSacks: The Future Ain't What It Used to Be
Increasingly, media has become a tool for on-demand instant gratification of any kind. It can be for entertainment, for education, or for something in-between. Media can act as a babysitter or a mentor at any time and increasingly anywhere on the planet. And what I just described is already active now, today, and much of that is already commonplace. What happens to the technological distribution of information a year from now? What about five years from now? What new providers of information will appear on the scene and be worth billions in a matter of months? If history is an indicator, which it usually is, there will be dozens of new competitors to the reading industry.
To make an accurate forecast for five years from now borders on the impossible, but it is an exercise I thrive on. Paraphrasing Arthur C. Clarke, if I forecast anything that seems reasonable, it is most likely not going to happen; but if I forecast the seemingly impossible, that is more likely to become a reality.
First let me present the rational ideas that will come to pass. In 2020 the internet will reach five billion people, and that will be a boon to all media professionals. With that reach, internet speeds will be double what they are today and 5G will be the standard smart phone setting. Video will be super-ultra high definition and common in most homes. All this projects a system of digital ubiquity we are only seeing a small fraction of today. Reading platforms will be dramatically improved by using reflective substrates capable of being read in direct sunlight with minimal power usage, and this will be the norm for almost all mobile devices.
What does that mean for the magazine media industry? Total ubiquity of information with increased competition from players yet unborn. Print circulation will be half of what it is today. Newsstand will have imploded only to be reinvented by entrepreneurs, who now deliver canned foods and will deliver canned magazines. Magazines will finally get over the need to make replica titles and will build vibrant HTML6 platforms for reading valuable content anywhere on any substrate. The magazine media revenue model will shift to a membership program entitling our member readership entry into the wondrous world of our particular niches. Membership fees and event passes will far outweigh the old subscription model. The niche membership programs, which will cost in the range of $60 per year, will be considered the passport to information riches focused on the reader's most cherished and specific interests and all the ancillary products that each niche has the potential to deliver no matter how tangential. In essence, magazine media will sell products and services more in line with the Amazon Prime business plan than the traditional magazine rate-based revenue stream.