Friday, October 14, 2005

Idea: Dip your toes in video

You probably saw the big announcement that Apple will add video to its upcoming iPod. That news has a lot of people excited. Today, the company announced it has signed a deal with ABC television that will give iPod users episodes of "Desperate Housewives" for $1.99 each.

Inman News was blogging about it yesterday, asking Realtors what their video was going to be about. One thing is for certain, Brad Inman and his team are expert at spotting trends in real estate, but I'm not sure how hot this one will be yet. And I'll tell you why.

I've been a closet Mac lover since 1982 when I helped start one of the first Desktop Publishing businesses in the country. The new tools Apple had then made available had us all convinced that everyone and his brother would soon be publishing their own magazines. The world would be awash in sharp new publications. That didn't happen.

In truth, we have a lot more print publications on the market today than we did prior to the introduction of that technology, but they're still all subject to the same requirements of every other business: either they add value or they die. The same thing happened with digital audio. We got a lot more Hip-Hop (which appeals to a market with some unique characteristics), but indie labels today struggle as much as they ever did, even with the Internet.

The same thing will happen with video. A lot of folks will get excited about video being available through a new mobile medium, especially folks that produce video for a living, like Inman and Texell (my own company). But it won't mean every company in the business will go out and start shooting their own programs. There will still be the costs of production to consider, the hard work of producing something that truly adds value and the uncertainty of the actual return on investment.

I expect it will continue to be a tool used primarily by top companies with something to say and the marketing savvy to do it with the most powerful communication tool available outside of a face-to-face meeting. These are the firms that will start producing video for the iPod now, leveraging it in the same powerful ways they are already utilizing blogs and podcasts.

That being said, we are excited about this news. Not because we know that "Desperate Housewives" will be followed closely by "Naked Housewives Wild On" but because now customers will have even more control over how they receive marketing information. Not only can they now choose to learn about that new technology platform through a video presentation, but they can also choose to watch it on the plane, using a device that fits in their pocket. That's huge.

That's the way people will do business in the very near future. Don't expect to see a video from every Realtor anytime soon, but plan on getting access to some great new video content easier than ever before.

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