Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Tipping Point

There's an interesting story I heard recently. A major record label called in some teenagers for a focus group. At the end of the session they pointed to a stack of CDs and told the young people they could choose what they wanted; the kids left empty handed.

Finally, the music industry has realised that the train has left the station. But, if today's announcement by HBO is anything to go by, the film industry has some way to go. They have placed conditions so strict on their downloads service that I believe one of two things is happening:

1) The company that defined pay TV has lost its marbles and its bottle
2) They want this trial to fail, so that they can say 'I told you so, this internet stuff will never catch on..'

The real trouble is that no public company want to sell its shareholders that its revenues will decline, profits will disappear and it will need to totally re-invent itself in the very near future. Cash cow companies have no reverse gear and will travel forward regardless that there is a deep swamp ahead.

The only answer for some of these companies is the private equity market, where they can seek shelter for a while as they reassess and refocus.

So, perhaps I was wrong about Guy Hands and his takeover of EMI. Perhaps, rather than toying with the market, he realises that it needs re-inventing. He's certainly doubling up as he tables a bid for Chrysalis.

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