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商业 - 传媒与文化

传媒革命:六大新媒体急先锋向何处去

Ben Elowitz 2011年11月04日

从苹果、谷歌、亚马逊到网飞,顶级技术公司正在争先恐后地制定战略方案,力图重塑媒体行业。那么,这些策略不同的公司需要注意哪些问题呢?

    数字媒体拥有改变世界的力量。然而,真正掌握这门21世纪的技术(同时也是艺术)却难于上青天。这就引出了一个问题:所有的顶级媒体公司都知道必须做出改变——但如何才能找到恰当的着力点,并完美地执行呢?让我们通过数字媒体革命六大先锋的视角来探讨一下这个问题。

苹果公司(Apple):改变媒体体验的剩余领地

    苹果比同行和消费者超前几个“光年”,它一次又一次带给我们惊喜,给这样一家公司提建议似乎显得有些狂妄。然而,身处这样一个全新的领导力时代,苹果公司最重要的事情莫过于坚守乔布斯的核心价值和强项。说到商业领袖,乔布斯一直是这个星球上最好的变革代言人,他从不接受现状。这也正是苹果在音乐、电影等优质媒体内容的设备和传播领域永立潮头的原因所在。

    苹果公司的团队必须将其点石成金的本领延伸至数字媒体设备世界剩余的领地。现在到了为客厅提供一流的电视体验,让所有娱乐在手机、iPad、电视和台式机世界之间无缝流动的时候了。但AirPlay、 iCloud和AppleTV还没有成熟到这一步。苹果的下一个挑战是实现技术上的跨越,制造出全新的设备,它们可以在这些平台之间自由穿梭,把娱乐和应用以高度个性化的方式带到消费者所处的任何地方。完美地做到这一点需要巨大的想象力。虽然乔布斯不在了,但很显然,如果有谁能做到这一点,它仍然非苹果公司莫属。

Facebook:如影随形,紧跟消费者

    就改变数字体验的性质而言,Facebook的贡献比任何其他网络公司都要大,即便苹果公司也甘拜下风。面在面向消费受众的社交操作系统领域,Facebook业占据支配地位。但它依然有潜力走得更远。一个明证是,Facebook本月刚刚宣布该公司将推动移动应用的普及(这些应用的可接入性就更不用提了),并最终弥合网络和应用之间的鸿沟。这家公司正在入侵苹果iOS和谷歌Android的领地——提供跨应用连接显然一直都是操作系统题中应有之意。

    Facebook越来越有希望把消费者、应用、数据和设备连接在一起。但Facebook要做到这一点,其掌门人马科•扎克伯格就需要史蒂夫•乔布斯式的想象力。实际上,扎克伯格必须构想出一个全新的生态系统。在这个系统里,所有的连接都有赖于Facebook。他已经证明了自己的执行力。但他能构想出如此巨大的愿景吗?

谷歌公司(Google):“没有屡试不爽的办法。”

    Wetpaint公司首席运营官罗布•格雷迪这个犹如商标广告词般的说法放在谷歌公司身上尤为贴切。在寻找问题的答案方面,谷歌是无可争议的王者——只要这些问题来自台式电脑和笔记本电脑。但把强大的搜索实力应用到移动环境、平板设备和通讯依然是谷歌的短板。尽管Android 操作系统显然是这一领域的成功者之一,但它带给谷歌的财务业绩远不及该公司在桌面领域获得的真金白银。谷歌需要重塑自我。它需要跟过去”一刀两断“,需要采用里德•黑斯廷斯式的哲学:公司不能单单依靠搜索。只不过就谷歌而言,这样做的难度要更大一些。

    原因如下:黑斯廷斯已经明白无误地指出网飞公司( Netflix)的下一代互联网产品是视频流服务,但谷歌必须找到一个全新的愿景。当然,这并不是说谷歌公司需要退出搜索市场。但它必须重塑其搜索组合,要像英特尔公司(Intel)那样,不断推出一代又一代微处理器,永远赶在竞争对手之前,让最新的芯片取代上一代产品。实际上,英特尔公司持续成功的部分原因就在于,摧毁行之有效的东西,代之以效果更优越的产品。谷歌的新愿景肯定应由三部分构成:移动、搜索和社交。好消息是,拜Android所赐,谷歌已经拥有了建立在前两部分之上的优质平台。

    但搜索需要超越查询框,移动设备或许不仅仅是手机加PDA(个人数字助理)。谷歌的挑战及其机遇在于,将自己重塑为一个完全连接在一起,织入日常生活机理之中的设备。谷歌应该了解用户在哪里,他跟谁在一起,他正在做什么,最起码也应该能够做出一些有根据的推测。它的下一个界面应该有质的飞跃,让我们不必在劳动双手。它应该是一个能够根据环境线索,帮助消费者过上数字生活的数字伴侣。苹果Siri服务打开了我们的想象力;但谷歌拥有令人赞叹的语音识别技术、算法和卓越的平台实力,来完成这些事情。现在,它亟需理解消费者。这是拉里•佩奇及其团队在2012年面临的最紧迫,也是最棘手的任务。

    Digital media has the power to change the world. Actually mastering this 21st century business (and art) is unbelievably hard, however. That begs the question: The top media companies all know they need to make changes -- but how do they find the right change and execute well? Let's look at this question through the lens of six key players in the digital media revolution.

Apple (AAPL): Transform the rest of our digital experience.

    It may seem arrogant to give advice to the one company that has surprised everyone again and again by being light years ahead of the industry -- as well as the consumer. Yet, in a new era of leadership, the most important thing for Apple will be holding on to Jobs' core values and strength. As corporate leaders go, Jobs was always the best change agent on the planet, and he was never willing to accept the status quo. That's why Apple is a perennial leader when it comes to devices and distribution for premium media content like music and movies.

    The Apple crew must extend its golden touch to the rest of the digital media device world. It's time to supply the living room with a first-class TV experience; and to seamlessly flow all entertainment between the mobile, iPad, TV, and desktop worlds. AirPlay, iCloud, and AppleTV aren't all the way there yet. Apple's next challenge is to make devices that leap forward and bring entertainment and applications wherever I am, and to know me as one person across all of these environments. To do so -- and to do so well -- will take a huge imagination. And, even without Jobs himself, it's clear that if anyone can do it, it's still Apple.

Facebook: Be everywhere the consumer is.

    More than any other company on the Web -- even Apple -- Facebook has changed the nature of digital experiences. It's already established itself as the dominant social operating system for consumer audiences. And yet it has the potential to go much, much farther. If you need more proof, just this month Facebook announced that it will be facilitating the spread of mobile applications, not to mention linking into them -- finally bridging the gap between Web and app. It's invading Apple iOS' and Google Android's territory, providing the cross-application linkages that have always unequivocally been the job of an operating system.

    Increasingly, Facebook has the opportunity to wire consumers, applications, data and devices together. But for Facebook to do this, Mark Zuckerberg will need the kind of imagination that Steve Jobs had. Indeed, Zuckerberg will have to imagine a whole new ecosystem, this time one where Facebook facilitates all connectivity. He's proven he can execute already. But can he take on a vision this big?

Google (GOOG): "What got you here won't get you there."

    This trademark phrase from Wetpaint COO Rob Grady is particularly apt in Google's case. Google is the undisputed king of finding answers to questions -- as long as they're being asked from desktop and laptop computers. But when it comes to applying its great search strength to mobile environments, tablet devices and communications, Google is still lost. While the Android operating system is clearly one of the winners, it doesn't give Google the essential financial success in mobile that it has on the desktop. Google needs to reinvent itself. It needs to make a bold "burn-the-bridges" move, adopting a Reed Hastings-like philosophy that the company cannot rely on search alone. Only, in Google's case, it's even harder.

    Here's why: Hastings had already clearly identified the next wave's product at Netflix (NFLX) -- streaming video over the Internet -- but Google has to find a new vision altogether. This is not to say that Google needs to exit the search market by any means. But, instead, it must reinvent its own search portfolio, the way Intel (INTC) reinvented the microprocessor generation after generation, always allowing its newest chip to put the last one out of business, before the competition did. Indeed, Intel's sustained success was built, in part, on destroying what worked and replacing it with something that worked even better. Google's new vision should surely have three components: mobile, search and social. The good news is that, thanks to Android, Google already has A+ platforms to build on the first two.

    But search needs to get beyond the query box, and the mobile device can be more than a phone plus PDA. Google's challenge -- and its opportunity -- is to reinvent it as a completely connected device that is woven into the fabric of daily living. It should know where I am, who I'm with, and what I'm doing -- or at least have some educated guesses. It should make the next interface leap that helps us leave the thumbs behind. And, it should be a digital companion that picks up on environmental cues and helps me live my digital life. Siri has opened our imagination; but Google has amazing voice recognition, algorithmic and platform strength to accomplish these things. Now it sorely needs to understand people. That's the most pressing -- and most problematic -- task for Larry Page and his team in 2012.

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