Two Predictions for 2010

© Gizmodo

I have two predictions on what 2010 will bring that I wanted to share with you as we are about to close the book on 2009:

1. 2010 will be coined the “Year of the Tablet” as different hardware and software companies offer a new platform and delivery system for the media.   This will happen only if print publishers get their act together (this would be a minor miracle given their total ineptitude to date) but I’m cautiously optimistic that we may just witness a noticeable revival of the print industry as it finds a way of delivery that is not dependent on decimating forests.

There have been many rumors, slipups of some of the major print powerhouses getting ready to provide content for an unnamed “Apple Tablet” or “iSlate” – I’ve heard rumblings from The New York Times, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Wired, GQ and others that their teams were approached by Apple more than 6 months ago…

Apple is not alone in getting tablets ready… Yet they are in a perfect position to capitalize on the print industry’s weakness right now – and become the GO TO provider for print content as they have done with the music industry (remember how they revitalized the ailing music industry?  When was the last time you purchased a CD?   I predict that they will do the same with print media and that we’ll be saying the same thing about purchasing a newspaper or magazine 3-5 years from now…)

Just this past week – I was making a paper mache volcano with my 5-year-old son that called for us to use newspaper and aluminum foil to make a foundation for the paper mache mix we had… I realized that I could not find a single piece of newspaper in our house.  Not a single sheet of newsprint!   Sure we have hundreds of magazine pages – but a quick unofficial poll around the house filled with six 16-34 year olds made it clear that NO ONE under 50 in our family reads the physical newspaper anymore.  Most read it and increasingly magazines as well – online.   I myself made the difficult move of canceling my New York Times subscription 8 months ago as I never read the print edition anymore – by the time it arrived on my doorstep I had already read the news more than 12-18 hours before on NYTimes.com…. so I canceled my subscription.  (This was tough to do  – I worked at The NYT as a staff photographer for 7 years…)

I still had money to give to support the NYT – but no one to give it to!  This is a fundamental failure of the print industry that a decade ago decided to sell print ads to their clients and THROW IN ONLINE ADVERTISING FOR FREE. A Herculean oversight!  Now they can no longer charge enough for online advertising and cannot sell subscriptions to their online readers –  and as a result the print industry has been DECIMATED in 2009.

I’ll roll the dice here and say that 2010 will not see the death of the print industry altogether as some are calling for.  In fact,  I’ll predict that if they find a way to monetize their content online (see: on tablets) we might actually see the first positive growth in those markets in years (hey it won’t take much!  Print is on life-support as is!)

If Magazines and Newspaper can find a way to either charge for online subscriptions or to profit from micro payments – there may be hope.   These tablets may JUST be hip enough for the new generation of readers (accustomed to NOT paying for content) that they may just not notice that they are now being asked to pay for something that has been free for too long.  Tablets may be JUST cool enough and the new content exciting enough to justify this pretty radical move – while you might not want to pay $20-$150 a year for you local newspaper online – how about $0.05 an article?  Or $0.01 per photo or video?  Maybe even a Nickel?  Think about it…

The 2010’s  may become known as the decade of the Tablet if things progress the way I hope they do, and all of our colleagues in the print industry may just be part of an incredible revival and REINVENTION of their industry.   You should look to see a new breed of content aggregation and offering as well – forget simple still image slide shows and articles.  Forget banner ads.  Print will quickly become a misnomer as the line between it an television and online content become more and more blurred and in effect irrelevant.

Advertising will also see an INCREDIBLE shakeup in the 2010’s – and that’s something I’m quite excited about.  Forget polished, predictable, packaged ads that have been cleared by 14 layers of creatives, executives, accountants, and lawyers –  EXPECT ads that are VIRAL, and EVOLVE on the internet/blogs/twitter etc.  that will come to redefine advertising as we know it.   I hope.

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On a much smaller note in relative terms – but relevant to me and many of this blog’s readers I’m sure:

2. HD DSLR Cameras and cinematography will come of age in 2010.    Surprisingly – don’t look to Canon Inc. to be spearheading this movement just yet.  You should look to many mid-size and smaller companies such as RedRock Micro, Viewfactor, Marshall Electronics, Litepanels and many others that will take the charge in 2010 by releasing incredibly innovative products that could potentially alter the way many of us make films / commercials / shorts.

Some of the innovations will be relatively minor, while others will astound you.  Obviously each company will be making their annoucements at their own pace and at the time of the their choosing.  But if even 1/4 of the things that have been whispered into my ear prove to make it past the prototype stage – I can guarantee you (and I) will all greatly benefit as filmmakers and customers.   If you simply take a step back and look at the timeline of HD DSLR cinematography – you will see that NAB 2010 lands just a little bit past the 18 month mark since the first Canon 5D MKII was announced… which just happens to be a very sweet spot for most companies to go from prototype to the announcement of important products.

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So in the end – to all of the readers of this blog – THANK YOU! To all of the nearly 4,000,000 of you that have visited this blog since it’s inception just a little over a year ago – thank you for the kind words, the few nasty comments (always from anon@anon.com – why is that?)  and in general the overwhelming support and encouragement.   2009 was a year of highs and lows for all of us – that has ended on an exclamation point for me with several fantastic work related projects as well as the announcement of the Canon / Vimeo film contest that I hope you all will be a part of!

If 2010 is just half as exciting as 2009 – I’m game!  My guess is that it will somehow be even MORE exciting!

Wishing you a wonderful 2010!

Happy New Year!