It is Morning in Africa

Atanu Dey quotes a wonderful short poem with plenty to think about (and which just about sums up our lives).

It is morning in Africa and
As the sun rises over the plains
The gazelle awakens knowing that
If it cannot outrun the fastest lion
It will be dead.

It is morning in Africa and
The lion awakens knowing that
If it cannot outrun the slowest gazelle
It will die.

It is morning in Africa and you had better start running.

Long Tail TV

Chris Anderson writes:

As your thumb crawls through your several hundred digital cable channels, TV may appear anything but shackled. Yet it is. What seems like everything imaginable is instead a very thin slice on the video world. The existing channel structure mostly rewards focused programming with enough depth to fill a 24/7 window every day of the year. So the DIY channel and History en Espanol now pass muster, but the Halo 2 Physics Hacks channel does not. An acceptable loss, you say? How about last year’s great season on Bravo, long ago overwritten by your DVR to save space?

Both the channel-centric reality of TV and its ephemeral nature are artifacts of the distribution bottleneck of cable broadcast. TV is still in the era of limited shelf space, while the lesson of the Long Tail is that more is always better. The growth of cable capacity over the past decade pales next to the growth in video creation over the same period and the size of the potential microaudiences for anything and everything. TiVo may have helped by at least taking the tyranny of time out of the equation, but we are nowhere near the iTunes model of being able to download everything ever made, anytime.

Three additional posts [2 3 4] discuss the idea of the Long Tail TV: “The best way to do that is to start with a good standard for packaging video to be distributed by such services that can incorporate rich metadata (from keywords to closed captions to full scripts) and, when wanted, DRM tied to some payment system…what I’d like is is a dedicated browser plug-in that would make this much easier for recommendations found online. When I see mention of a TV show that I want to record, I’d like to highlight it and right-click (Mac users insert your own favorite shortcut here). A new option on the pop-up menu that appears would be ‘Record to DVR’. If I select that, the app would do a quick search on the phrase, returning with enough information to let me choose the particulars of what I want. ”

Apple’s Strategy

The Economist writes on Apple’s mass-market strategy with its iPod Shuffle and Mac mini:

It also makes perfect sense, says Steven Milunovich at Merrill Lynch, an investment bank, as long as one realises that the iPod is the tail wagging the dog, the dog being Apples computer business. Even though the iPod now outsells Apples computers by volume, most of the firm’s revenues still come from the computersthe iMac desktop, the iBook laptop and the high-end Power Mac and PowerBook. So Mr Jobs still needs to fix Apples longstanding problem in its core business, which is that its global market share in computers seems stuck at about 3%. Using the iPods halo effect to convert mainstream (ie, Microsoft Windows) computer users, thinks Mr Milunovich, is the way to do it.

Which is why Mr Jobs, to gasps in the audience (even though the news had already leaked out), also announced his most radical product, the Mac mini. Named to remind people of the iPod mini, this is a fully-fledged but tiny computerit almost fit into Mr Jobss palm. The twist, in Mr Jobss words, is that it is BYODKM, or bring your own display, keyboard and mouse: buyers are expected to plug in whatever monitors and peripherals they have already. Leaving out these bits reduces the price to $499, or $599 for a more powerful model. This is about $800 less than the flagship iMac, making the Mac mini Apples first truly low-cost computer, so that people who are thinking of switching [from a Windows machine] will have no excuse, says Mr Jobs.

Cutting the price tag of the new box by leaving out the peripherals rather than by stripping down its functionality is a shrewd way of minimising two risks. It is unlikely to cannibalise sales and profit margins of Apples more expensive models; and it is likely to snap many Windows users out of their inertia and into making the switch. As more of them do, Mr Jobs reckons, the converts will tell other Windows users how safe Macs are (compared to Microsofts buggy, virus-prone software) and how user-friendly (just try networking several Macs together, compared to several Windows machines).

Thus, Mr Jobs hopes, Apples growing but seamlessly integrated range of products, from entry-level stuff for kids to pricey boxes for professional designers or musicians, should make Apple the most revered brand in the digital home and in consumer electronics.