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December 26, 2006


I'd argue with a couple of your examples:

Since Vista isn't really on the market yet, at least for individual PCs, it's *very* premature to say that it's a failure.

HD-DVD really hasn't had much money spent on marketing, one reason it's even less likely to succeed than Blu-ray. In that case, your argument may be correct, but it's also premature.

But Vista is the extreme case. I don't think you can call it a failure until, say, two years after it's been introduced and more than half of new PCs still come with XP. Windows ME was a failure (well deserved). With Vista, we just don't know yet.

The examples may be poorly chosen, but they are secondary to my argument.

What I'm saying is that people have their own internal perceptions of value. You can talk all you want about what people "should" want or "should" do, but that changes nothing.
So people will reintermediate their information searches if, and only if, the perceived value to them is dramatically greater that what they currently experience.

What I was talking about in my examples is a failure of *demand*.

Products such as Vista can still succeed, and almost certainly will do so, by forcing supply in the absence of demand.

For all practical purposes, Microsoft will make it impossible to buy earlier versions of the OS.

Vista in many cases fills needs that simply don't exist, while adding "features" that no one wanted. I can't imagine there are millions of people out there saying "if only XP had a Photo Gallery, my life would be so much better" or "if only XP had rigid content protection, my consumer experience would be greatly enhanced".

Similarly for high-definition video (which is really what I was getting at with HD-DVD, whatever the specific implementation).

Fair enough...and, in fact, I deleted a final paragraph noting that your general argument might very well be right. Dave Pollard seems to be saying that the demand exists--and there, you and he are both a lot closer to the potential market. I guess the question is, do enough people perceive reintermediation as valuable to reintroduce librarians into the industries that have abandoned them? And there, I have no knowledge at all...

I certainly agree that saying there should be a demand for something doesn't constitute a demand. Of course, a portion of advertising for decades has been devoted to creating customer demand--to creating new needs where none previously existed. It doesn't always work, but it does too often for comfort. But SLA isn't going to mount a multibillion-dollar ad campaign to convince companies that they need reintermediation!

As for high-def optical discs and high-def video, admittedly not the real point of your post, that one's really tough to call (and I've been following it closely). High-def video itself seems to be making the grade, based on TV sales (setting aside the fact that way too many HDTV owners think they're watching HDTV programs when they're not). I suspect the odds of high-def discs supplanting DVDs as the primary mass medium for recorded video are pretty small (unless the companies "do a CD" and force the issue, and I really don't think that's plausible)--but the odds of one of the two current media becoming successful are considerably higher. Ten percent of the prerecorded-disc market in 2010, for example, would be a large and potentially profitable marketplace. I think Blu-ray has a shot, albeit certainly far from a sure thing. I think HD DVD's pretty much blown it. (And yes, I do think that the tv-on-plastic-disc market will still be a huge one in 2010, even if various celestial-jukebox initiatives take away some of its growth.)

Sorry; that's really an entirely different post, isn't it?

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