The television analogy

The most corrosive piece of technology that I’ve ever seen is called television – but then, again, television, at its best, is magnificent.”
Steve Jobs.

In the television age, the first half saw the biggest margins going to the technology innovators. The technologies were the drivers and innovators reaped their rewards. TV sets, outside broadcast vans, television stations were expensive, transmission technologies, etc.

But as the second half of the television age came around, the technologies became more commoditised and greater margins were shifting towards those who could utilise the technology to reach the masses. For example, how much was Jerry Seinfeld commanding in his last season for a relatively small amount of time/resources invested? Fortunes were still being made in the technologies, but it was through selling large volumes of product on smaller margins.

I see an analogy with the information age. The largest profits have traditionally been made by the technology innovators in the early stages of the information age. This is starting to evolve towards an era when the innovative utilisers of the technology are making astounding margins by providing compelling solutions to vast numbers of people (Skype, Google, etc).

What really interests me is whether the OSS industry, which has previously provided behemoth solutions to technology giants (CSPs) is able to evolve into a solution that caters for masses of technology users rather than the technologists.

Not only that, but if CSP margins continue to decline on commoditised technologies then will there continue to be an appetite for OSS / BSS investments on a grand scale as we’ve seen in the past?

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