Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Digital Revolution Knows No Boundaries

Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Digital Revolution Knows No Boundaries

Article excerpt

For the past 11 years, I have sought out my respite from the digital maelstrom on a small Greek island. Just a few years ago, there was no cellphone coverage; getting on the internet required you to dismantle the phone socket, and the one internet cafe on the island offered two computers sharing one ponderous dial-up connection.

It was charming, idiosyncratic, picturesque. After a few days, however, it was pretty annoying.

Arriving there last week, it has all changed. Instead of upgrading the phone system, it has gone straight to Wi-Fi. Across the island, laptops can be used pretty much anywhere, and it has brought the global media village crashing in.

Islanders who have spent their lives getting the papers a day late now have Facebook profiles. They are downloading episodes of Lost. They are video-conferencing on Skype. They are more online than we are. Their media world has changed beyond recognition, and it has not been a gradual process.

It was a reminder of what we've been through over the past 10 years, as email, instant messenger, online shopping, Google, eBay and iPlayer have reshaped our access to information, to media and to each other.

But it was also a reminder that this change continues unabated in markets like the UK just as less developed countries catch up.

Last week's Washington Post carried an interview with Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's ever ebullient chief executive, who predicted that by 2018, all media would be delivered via the internet. 'There will be no newspapers and no magazines that are delivered in paper form. Everything will be delivered in an electronic form,' he said.

Of course, we can all see why Microsoft would like it to be so, but the question is how realistic this is.

Already, cinema is transitioning to digital, fundamentally changing the distribution economics of the medium and enabling more choice in cinemas, as well as altering the way advertising can be delivered and targeted.

Internet radio has been around for years, but, ironically, it is wireless that is causing a new surge in popularity as portable internet radios that connect through a domestic Wi-Fi network become common.

Viacom is wiring the London Underground for digital ads, launching cross-track projection later this year, and anyone who has ever visited Japan will have seen the explosion in huge digital billboards there.

However, print and TV offer the biggest prizes. …

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