As mobility and personalization become the norm, consumers will become local markets of one and companies will use technology and telecommunications to create and deliver product to potentially billions of individual, digital micro-markets, on demand. All sectors are being transformed by the increasingly consumer involved, on-demand digital world: from entertainment to transportation and from medicine to fashion. Digital opportunities also carry digital risks, however, and successful initiatives will uphold the integrity of both data security and intellectual property.
Current disruptions in the $1.7 trillion global entertainment and media industry (PricewaterhouseCoopers projection for 2008) reflect the rewards and pitfalls of the digitization of content: Apple “generated over $10 billion in revenue and almost $1 billion in earnings in the first half of fiscal 2006”, while Napster has “lost $175 million on $237 in sales over the past four years” and YouTube is hoping to generate sufficient “citizen” talent to offset the loss of the popular Saturday Night Live “Lazy Sunday” video from its site. YouTube removed the SNL clip, and more than 500 other pieces of NBC owned content, when NBC threatened YouTube with legal action in connection with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Soon after, NBC announced the creation of a dedicated Technology Growth Center (TGC) with the goal of controlling the digital monetization of its content:
The TGC will focus on better-leveraging NBC Universal content through new technology, and will be organized into four divisions: Technical Product Development…Policy, Strategy and Standards, which will focus on technology policy in Washington; Emerging Technology and Research, which will work with GE's Global Research Center and universities on funded research projects; and Anti-Piracy Technical Operations… Projects include developing technology that allows NBC Universal to digitally send its TV content to Apple for distribution on iTunes, instead of using manual delivery on Digital Betacam tapes…interactive content initiatives with cable and satellite operators surrounding Olympics programming; and the use of SMS messaging and online voting for…(the show) Deal or No Deal.
While the consumer facing entertainment world is the most prominent example of digital creation and delivery of product to local markets of one, individuals and companies in many other sectors are creating customized products and delivering personalized services through innovative use of technology and telecommunications.
Engadget reports on the digitization of wheelchairs taking place in Europe:
A radical new GPS-enabled wheelchair with fat tires and four-wheel drive may soon offer disabled individuals the ability to tool around almost any terrain while still being protected by a virtual "tether" to a remote command center. The Superfourin chair, as it's known, is basically a modified ATV with a hybrid engine, on-board computer, and embedded sensors to monitor both vital signs and vehicle status…
A group of Alabama physicians are testing “Practice Extenders” with PDA-Based counseling to reduce smoking and unhealthy eating:
PDA-based behavior change interventions may be an accessible, relatively low cost and easy-to-use tool that can be integrated into everyday practice, but only if consistent with physicians’ priorities. Practice Extenders may be a valuable adjunct to traditional care and enhance patient compliance with physicians’ recommendations, but integration of such services into the current health care model would likely require changes in systems. A PDA-based behavior change intervention and referral system nevertheless has the potential to be successfully implemented in the clinical setting.
Japanese Fashion designer, Issey Miyake has developed computer-driven textile manufacturing processes to create fashions and home furnishings which adapt to individual bodies and morph into different surroundings:
(Miyake) invented a means of knitting or weaving entire pieces of clothing -- no sewing needed. Thread goes into the loom, and tops, skirts, and pants come out…a wide-flattened tube of cloth…with embedded "seams"…Each piece of clothing could be cut out of the swath of fabric, as you might separate a paper doll's dress from the page along the perforated line. Because the process produced material that wouldn't fray, wearers could then customize the clothes as they saw fit. Miyake calls the ever-evolving process, and the line of avant-garde clothing made with it, A-POC. It's an acronym for "a piece of cloth… Before the end of 2006, Miyake will offer consumers a product co-designed with hip London-based furniture maker/architect Ron Arad that blurs the edges between designer clothing and designer chairs. Called Gemini, it's a streamlined, body-cushioning seat pillow, made of A-POC fabric, which morphs into an elegant, body-hugging jacket.
What other sectors are innovating with technology and telecommunications to capitalize on potentially billions of local markets of one? Join the conversation: “Talk Back” below to share Digital Micro-Market stories.