Fighting The Last War, Not The Next

I was at the Magazine Publisher’s Association annual meeting last week and was asked about new digital devices and services that mimic the way a magazine is read in paper form.  According to Ad Age, I said:

They may not want to hang too much hope on the idealized "iPod for
print," according to Fred Wilson, partner, Union Square Ventures, a
venture capital fund. "I don’t think anyone should wait for that
nirvana device, because it won’t necessarily save magazines," he said.

First, I don’t think magazines need to be "saved".  They can morph their current brands, properties, audiences, and advertiser relationships into new ways to make money and stay relevant.

But trying to recreate the physical experience in a digital form is the wrong way to think about these things.  Dont’ be the generals fighting the last war.  Fight the next war.

I read today about some new software in Microsoft’s Vista OS that will allow people to read the newspaper online the way they do in print.  Like I want to do that?

Here is the way I want to read the newspaper online.  The Times already has it.  They don’t need something new dreamed up by Microsoft to make reading online a better experience. if I want to read the paper by turning the pages, I’ll pick up the paper and read it for god sakes.

UPDATE: I see that Jeff Jarvis beat me to the punch on this one by three days.  He voiced the same exact reaction.  Good.  He’s consulting to the Times the last time I checked.