Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Buying and Selling eContent Conference: Dancing Without the Devil

InformationToday's Buying and Selling eContent Conference at the Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona lived up to its billing in most ways this year, with little meaningless bravado about the direction of the content industry and plenty of seasoned insights into where valued content is headed in the months ahead. This is not to say that there weren't people with vision: keynoter Louis Borders, CEO of KeepMedia, laid out a compelling vision of what tomorrow's "walled garden" of content ecommerce may look like in the not-so-distant future to kick off the event and there were plenty of speakers and participants who did not hesitate to point out the direction of how value will be produced in the industry moving ahead. But unlike years past there were few overhyped voices spelling out how people had better "get it" (or else), and many voices saying in effect, "We think we get it, we think that we're moving in the right direction, and we're doing what we need to do to meet the future." Most seemed to be happy enough to buy in to one of the themes laid out by Outsell’s Anthea Stratigos: "Have fun!"

But if the 5.6 percent growth in the content industry forecasted for 2004 in Anthea's presentation can be called fun then we're all in need of a little more time in the spa at Camelback. While a few vendors in attendance such as Yahoo! could boast about significant revenue gains, most of the traditional top names in attendance are barely treading water and many of them face significant challenges from strengthening new high-growth forces in the industry that they must either confront or join in collaborative efforts. In pondering the theoretical distribution of premium content via Google Corilee Christou, VP of Licensing for Reed Business Information coined a phrase used oftentimes during the conference, "Do we dance with the devil?" That seemed to sum up much of the undercurrent of angst enveloping major publishers and aggregators in attendance. Major search engines, consumer Web portals, open access to peer-reviewed journals and XML-based weblog syndication streams were but a few of the major hobgoblins that seemed to be daunting forces for many players. But for the most part attendees seemed to be content to dance with partners in attendance, and wait for the devil to take his due at some other time. Perhaps sooner than most would like...
[NOTE TO FEED SUBSCRIBERS: I will be backdatating subsequent entries on this topic to allow for "top-down" reading on our Web site. My apologies if this is a little confusing at first...]
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