Way back in the day most of us got our news and entertainment the old fashioned way. Few choices. If we were fortunate enough to live in a modestly sized metropolitan area we might have had a few TV stations with network news, daytime TV, and primetime TV. We probably had a daily newspaper, and the New York Times or Wall Street Journal would show up in a day or two. And lets not forget magazine subscriptions, books, the library, and the nearby movie theatre.
That was about it. Today, we Mac, iPhone, iPad users have a nearly uncountable number of ways to digest new and information and entertainment, mostly thanks to electronics, cable TV, and the internet. In fact, content– rolling everything above into a single word– is so ubiquitous and arrives daily in such volume that it simply cannot be digested each day. There’s too much, and using multiple devices doesn’t make it easier, either.
Why is there so much more content today than in decades past?
I blame it on technology; advancements in electronics which makes creating, storing, and distributing content much easier and less expensive (we’re not talking quality content because that’s a different issue entirely) to manufacture. Technology also makes it easier and less expensive to move content today; anywhere in the world and nearly instantly. And, finally, technology also allows us to gather and view content on more devices; and, again, easy and less expensive than ever.
What pays for all this content?
Advertising. Cable TV giant Time Warner– once the owner of AOL, and still owner of a vast cable television network, Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune Magazine, and others, just bought an advertising company that owns MySpace. Think of MySpace as the starter network for Facebook users, both of which generate content and pay for everything through digital advertising.
In other words, the digital world of news, information, and entertainment is expanded by companies that not only create their own content– from top to bottom– but they also run their own advertising networks.
All of this is taking place as something of a shakeout within the industry made up of both content creators and aggregators and advertisers. Advertising is what greases the wheels of content creation.
What does this have to do with Apple, the Mac, iPhone, and iPad (and, to a certain extent, Apple TV, iTunes, and Apple Music)? Apple does not create content, and makes very little money on the modest advertising efforts it has generated to date. Apple makes money by selling hardware devices, and by distributing some content to the 1-billion member customer base. That makes Apple a different beast than Google, Facebook, Time Warner or any online entity that makes money by generating or distributing content and selling advertising.
Advertisers today may have more to do with privacy and security exploitation than government spooks or Russian and Chinese hackers. The other day I visited a couple of websites for server hosts. The next day advertisements for those very same server hosts showed up on sites I visited. Someone knows what I was doing online and placed an incentive before my eyes to make a decision (I was so turned off by the abuse that I looked elsewhere, only to find similar ads showing up on websites I visited the day after that).
News, information, and entertainment is available in abundance in the 21st century and that is not likely to change, other than to get worse because it’s all supported by advertising, which is directed upon viewers based upon their online habits and collected profiles.
Frankly, I’m glad to see Apple get away from that business, but online advertising and tracking is growing fast and even efforts by ad blockers to stifle the collection of personal data does not seem to have slowed the growth.