Anil: Tech or media?

Anil asks: Why do Internet companies still pretend they’re in the technology business? His post notes that many of the CEOs of the most-visited Internet sites have CEOs who have worked in media businesses (viz Meg Whitman at Disney Publishing, Barry Diller (entertainment media), Terry Semel, etc.)
Anil writes: “I’m still not sure of all of the implications of dot-coms having grown up to be competitors to movie studios, television networks, or record labels, but it’s telling that those of us who are knee-deep in web services and XML and blogs and social software are still focused on the technology that powers these sites and their features.”
Great observations, Anil.
To me, the key messages here are about user experience, time-sharing, and brand. Consumers are looking for certain credible payoffs, but they are as happy to get them from Yahoo as from ESPN so long as their needs can be met and the brand is trustworthy. Where tech companies fall short, in my opinion, is in underestimating the investment of time and skill required to create great packaged experiences, experiences that are powerful enough to command an audience’s precious slice of time. These days, as we all know, TV is not competing with cable, it is competing with going out to dinner, talking on the phone, playing a video game, gardening, working, shopping, and yes, surfing the web. As disposable time gets filtered down into little bites, the decisions are made by the hour, not by the channel…and online tools and utilities–as well as online entertainment and information–need to be able to compete in that pool.

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