During the eighteenth century, coal miners used a canary in a coal mine as an indicator of noxious gases while exploring new caves. Along the same lines, whenever we see the development of competing standards, we are seeing the emergence of a new market place.
For years, we have had eBooks on the web. eBooks were a euphemism for pdfs (mostly free).
Now that there is a proliferation of new devices, we are seeing the arrival of a whole new market for e-readers and eBooks. The two main players in this e-book market are Amazon (with the Kindle reader) and Apple (with the iPhone/iTunes/iPad ecosystem).
In this context, the traditional content publishers are trying to reassert their positions in the value chain. As such, the big five publishing players – Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time Inc – have united to form a new joint venture under the name ‘Next Issue Media’ for the development of ad formats and standards for e-reader devices. Considering the competition – Amazon and Apple- this should be seen as the desire to create a standard for competitive positioning.
My perspective is that these are normal market forces playing out within the context of a changing value chain. The good news is that it indeed seems that we have a market beyond the free e-books we have seen so far.
Like the proverbial canary in a coal mine, when you see competing standards, expect to see a real marketplace.
The e-reader market has arrived – complete with competing standards!