TV/movie studios and record labels are fighting for their survival against an army of cyber-pirates.
This is nothing new.
The same acts and feelings of desperation have always popped up when new technologies were developed, from when VCRs and audio cassettes first allowed people to copy tapes to when radio and television beamed media into people’s home so they didn’t have to buy records or movie tickets any more.
And with every advance in technology the companies eventually have realized that people like the new, frequently more convenient options, and they have adapted.
There are a few people who are already adapting after realizing that the Internet is not an obstacle to conquer, but a massive opportunity and the future of our economy.
According to a 2011 report from management consulting agency McKinsey Global Institute, the internet has sparked faster economic growth than the industrial revolution.
For every job the Internet eliminates, it creates 2.6.
The report also states that 75 percent of “Internet impact” comes from existing industries.
One of the best attitudes about this I’ve heard is that of software entrepreneur Gabe Newell.
“The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work,” Newell said. “It’s by giving those people a service that’s better than what they’re receiving from the pirates.”
Newell is the founder of the video game studio Valve which runs the online video game store Steam.
While other companies try to stop people from stealing games with complicated CD keys, registering for accounts or downloading multiple programs in order to play their games, Valve just sells games easily, cheaply and conveniently.
After you buy something on Steam, you can download and delete it as often as you like. You will always own it.
They even track your progress in a video game for you through deletions and downloads.
Today, Valve is worth $3 billion.
They are responsible for 50 to 70 percent of all online video game sales.
They are more profitable per employee than Apple, Google and other such giants, with only 250 employees.
In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, the late co-founder and CEO of Apple, that came out shortly after the computer visionary’s death, Jobs offers several nuggets of wisdom that explain his astounding success.
The first is that companies can’t be afraid to “cannibalize themselves,” otherwise someone else will.
Since Apple released the iPad in 2010 their laptop sales have dropped, but Apple also became the most valuable company in the world.
The book describes the fights Jobs had with record companies and TV/movie companies in starting the now massively successful iTunes store.
By convincing these companies to “cannibalize themselves” and sacrifice possible CD or DVD sales, these companies now make billions of dollars a year selling their products through Apple’s iTunes store.
Even our industry, the newspaper media, has been very slow to realize what is going on.
Isaacson’s biography also describes how Jobs fought against the heads of nearly every major newspaper company in America while trying to help them.
After a decade of resenting the Internet and its users for not paying for news, Jobs offered the newspaper industry hope.
With the iPad, Apple could sell newspaper subscriptions and the papers would actually make money with digital news.
And while dozens of papers across the country are shutting down, being bought out, or just laying off large portions of their staff, these corporate heads told Jobs they weren’t interested in his offer, because Apple would have held onto subscriber email addresses.
Newspaper companies were mad because they couldn’t email you more spam.
They eventually compromised and hopped on the iPad bandwagon.
A year later, an analytics firm called Distimo reported last month that iPad users are spending $70,000 per day on electronic newspapers and magazines.
The adaptation is already happening, with companies like Valve and Apple leading the way, but it will take time.
So if you are having trouble with a website or app, if it’s just too complicated and convoluted and confusing, it’s not your fault. The company behind it just doesn’t understand the potential of the Internet to make you happier.
But they will learn and, one day, listen.
(Zach White is a Havre Daily News staff writer.)