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osOpinion: The Value of "Digital Content"

Jun 07, 2000, 06:05 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Monty Manle)

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"It's no longer possible to make money selling hardware for most companies; you have to be a huge conglomerate in most cases to turn much of a profit. Selling operating systems and infrastructure software is likewise a sucker's game: you can choose to pay nothing for Linux and its associated software, or spend more money and get your solutions from Microsoft. A new vendor can't really add much value to the mix. The application software market is an even tougher nut to crack. So what's left?"

"In a word: *content*. Businesses new and old are rushing to put *content* onto the Internet -- movies, music, books, artwork, you name it. And there are hundreds of schemes floating around to extract payment for this content: micropayments, escrow accounts, debit cards, direct account withdrawals, credit cards, and many others. But something has happened that the media companies especially have been dreading for years -- the content is losing its value even as the cost to produce the content is going up."

"Some point to the "piracy" or "theft" of digital content on the Internet as the reason for the decline. There is some truth to this; why pay $15 for a CD when you can get it for free (in the form of MP3) from Gnutella or Napster? The day is not far off when the same will be true of motion pictures; broadband access will make downloading a feature film a trivial exercise. When Stephen King published the first e-book (which used a lame encryption technique), it was cracked and distributed on Usenet within the hour."

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