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    « What Does Starbucks and AEC Reprographics Markets Have in Common? | Main | Are You in the Right Place at the Right Time? »

    October 12, 2009

    Napster is to iTunes as FTP Sites are to Digital Services

    Before there was iTunes there was Napster.  Napster was hugely disruptive to traditional music distribution model.  People getting  away music for free!  Even respectable law abiding citizens were downloading illegal music for free.  It wasn't just because the music was free.  It was convenient.  It was easy to search for the music you liked and get the instant gratification of a download.  At the time Napster came about the next best thing was going to the store and buying a CD.  What if I only wanted one song?  What if I wanted it now?  The cost of distribution was too high to get the song.  The old model was out of date and inefficient. 

    Steve Jobs and Apple introduced the iPod and iTunes.  He offered the same convenience for a reasonable price - $0.99 a song.  For that price the law abiding citizens would rather pay $0.99 and be legitimate.  Would Apple have been a successful if they came out with iPod and iTunes before the Napster revolution?  Maybe, but it would have been a lot harder.  Napster created pent up demand.

    Many people in the reprographics industry complain about the hidden enemy "FTP Sites and CD-ROM distribution".  Maybe some of your customers didn't find the cost of the convenience of your service desirable so they decided to invest in their own technology.  Now that they have tried to do it themselves are they more or less interested in digital services.  I would argue that many would not go back to the inconvenience of analog distribution, but are disillusioned with the headaches with performing and maintaining digital content distribution services.  To sell your digital services you can't lead with "why printing is better".  You may overtly or covertly get the door shut in your face.  You should lead with how you can perform the services more efficiently and more cost effectively than they can.  There is one important point.  The pricing will have to appetizing.  It has to fit the same buying mode as iTunes.  For example "for $0.99 a song I'm willing to NOT use Napster".  You customer will have to say "based on that proposal we are willing to NOT create CD-ROM's and hosting an FTP site".


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    Tom Taubenheim

    You hit the nail on the head. Great points. Thanks for sharing.

    Steve Bova

    Once again, John Cronin hits the nail on the head. A key is to have detaild conversations with clients about how you will deliver value under a new business model. The opportunity is to be the partner trusted with managing digital information.

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