“If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will”
The famous quote from Steve Jobs really strikes a cord with today’s traditional print based news publishers. In the light of Johnstone press announcing record losses and extremely meagre digital gains, Steve’s words ring truer than ever. In this context, his statement applies to Apple’s electronic devices, but swap this out for print news delivery methods vs digital online of web, mobile etc (inc the embargo of content online to protect print revenues) and you can see a similar picture…
And in the words of Walter Isaacson from Steve’s Biography “So even though an iPhone might cannibalize sales of an iPod, or an iPad might cannibilize sales of a laptop, that did not deter him”.
A recent study from the U.S. states that for every $1 made in digital for news companies, they lose $7. How true this is in the U.K. has not been measured, but I suspect it’s similar. The challenge then is, as Print based news publishers continue to drive consumers away from their core paper and ink delivery system to digital, how then to monetise to the same value as print, if they are eating themselves away, ‘bit by bit’ in the process.