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Ubiquity

January 30, 2012
by seth godin

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Web users have been trained long enough to know what they want: everything.

That’s the promise of the web. Every book for sale at Amazon. Every search result visible on Google. Every auctioned item right there on eBay.

Not piracy. Availability.

The music industry got confused about this and decided that people merely wanted to steal music. What’s clear now from the rise of iTunes as well as ad and subscriber-supported services like Spotify is that people will happily pay as long as it brings most everything along for the ride.

And Netflix shows us that subscriptions are generally more welcomed than a la carte sales.

Into this world walks the MPAA, the movie business and the folks who make books.

And once again, there’s the same mistake: they think piracy is the problem. It’s not. The problem is that these providers are doing nothing to embrace ubiquity, because their heritage is all about scarcity.

When the VHS came along, the MPAA insisted that the movie industry would be killed by it. They finally listened to the market and made a fortune. And when DVD came along, the same thing happened. Form factors change and the business model that supports them must change as well. The business model for an ebook can’t possibly be the same as it is for a paper book, despite the best efforts and hyperventilation of a few overpaid book publishing executives.

When in doubt, move toward ubiquity. When wondering, favor subscriptions.

Readers will pay.

Moviegoers will pay.

If you give them what they want, which is everything, right now, easily found and discussed.

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