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The Digital Divide & Conquer

More significant is what this represents because books have long been seen as the medium users would be most reluctant to digitise. With the scales quickly tilting, so have publishers attitudes to all things digital.

Of course those with long tech memories will realise this is nothing new. Same process, different media. It happened first with music and video followed. Both industries initially blamed the digital world for damaging their sectors, some prominent multinationals still do, before it dawned that the evolution was necessary and it represented their future.

This future remains in flux. Whereas eBooks have been battling to convince consumers they can read from a screen (e-ink or otherwise) their distribution has been reasonably straightforward. Video struggles to get global distribution rights (particularly in TV) and faces broadband speed limitations when trying to promote HD streaming. Meanwhile digital music has become so competitive even companies like Sky have failed to compete, innovators such as Spotify get stone walled when trying to enter other countries and this week Last.fm gets criticised for daring to charge for its mobile service.

Meanwhile hardware and software makers all want a piece of the pie. Mobile platforms take a cut of digital apps (typically 30 per cent), ISPs are constantly battling the urge to do away with net neutrality in favour of profit, Intel attempts to control video DRM with Insider and even Smart TVs are a greedy example (or are they?) of manufacturers trying to rake in further revenues from media digitisation. The genie is out of the bottle and it won't go back.

All of which leaves us somewhat in a state of limbo. In a digital world do the advertisers have the power? The content providers? The distributors? The readers/listeners/viewers? Certainly all have significant influence, but quite where each one ranks in the hierarchy has yet to be worked out. Once it is content, distribution, advertising and readership will again evolve dramatically.

We're not in 2003 anymore, but from our perspective 2011 is set to be even more exciting…

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