New Media – Where to go next?

Recently I listened to the MacCast, the Mac Podcaster meet-up episode (part one). In it  Scott Bourne, Leo Laport, Dave Hamilton, Ken Ray, Cali Lewis, Victor Cajiau and Adam Christianson debated the current state of new media in general, and podcasting in particular.

The general consensus seemed to be that podcasting is stalling a bit, and that iTunes basically has reached as many people as it can. Where can we find a market to expand our business into? The answer lies, as is so often the case, outside the US!

What do I mean? Well, historically American companies have been very good at inventing, coming up with new ideas and putting them out there on the market. The US has always outperformed Europe from an entrepreneurial standpoint. But, as soon as the external markets wake-up, as they are bound to do, the Yankees tend to turn around and sit sulking back home. A perfect example is the automotive industry in the US. Ford and General Motors decided that Europe was a fringe market many years ago, and that that market would be much better served by local companies they could just own. Well, now they are in trouble because the European branches lack exclusivity and therefor doesn’t sell very well, and the American made products are basically un-sellable outside the US and possibly Canada. This was worsened even further by modern environmental, qualitative and design demands, and both Ford and GM have fallen behind the curve, struggling in all markets, including the home one.

There is a lesson in all this. The lesson is that American companies should A: pay attention to what goes on outside the US, or sooner or later the Japanese will do it better, and the Europeans will have more class. B: Expand into the foreign markets, and get them to look at, and consider your products as valid competition to what is made locally. And C: acknowledge that you have a market outside the US and make them feel part of what it is you company does.

In Podcasting terms this means that you should try to expand your audience, not necessarily in the US or Canada. But the rest of the English speaking world like Australia, the UK, Ireland, New Zealand etc. But let’s not forget that English is slowly becoming the “youthlanguage” even in continental Europe, and in Scandinavia English can soon be considered a second national language in most places. Granted, we may not see hundreds of thousands of new listeners, readers or viewers. But it is a largely untapped market. In Sweden for instance, most podcasts seems to be recorded radio shows from established radio channels, and it is extremely difficult to get people to understand that yes, you can play podcasts on most devices, and no, you don’t need an iPod. Time and time again I have this discussion with people. While the iPod is popular in Sweden to, there are plenty Creatives and especially Sony Ericsson and Nokia phones

So how would you go about this? Well, that is tricky, but you could start by not having these silly US-only competitions, coupons, and other consumer perks. The Internet is global for a reason. It is time the US started to treat it that way. Another way would be to strike up partnerships with eg. European mobile carriers an/or phone makers. Nokia yes, but don’t forget Sony Ericsson. I am aware that Sony Ericsson is not very common in the US, but they are a common sight in Scandinavia and also very media-centric in general.

So my two ¢ on this subject is, don’t forget that the world is larger than the United States of America. Don forget about the old world, even if you think it’s the greatest country in the world.

Thobias

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