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Wow, the news is all about shifting paradigms and changing models, with Apple and Amazon seriously beginning to sell movie downloading services and Ford seriously beginning to get serious about remaking itself into a 21st century auto company. Apple and Amazon are pioneering into new business spaces while Ford, despite its ads about innovation, is catching up to Toyota and other rivals up with a new way of making cars that people crave.
Apple just announced a Sept. 12 announcement (it does that kind of thing successfully) and most folks expect Steve Jobs to do a movie iTunes/iPod unveiling. Of course, he could show off a new iPhone as well but betting is on the movies. The big question is the pricing of movie downloads and whether or not Jobs can get the studios, other than Disney, to join in. Jobs wants to keep pricing simple and he’s right.
Amazon has its new Amazon Unbox and it will probably offer movie downloads that are more variable in price—which is what the studios want. Maybe it will work. It’s all white space. But if it gets too complicated, or expensive, it won’t.
Then there is Ford, which just breaks my heart. It turns out that betting so much on gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks meant betting the company. And even though Ford has some great technology, it isn’t enough if its business model isn’t right. One obvious conclusion is that no big corporation should ever rely so heavily on one or two products for so high a percentage of its revenues and profits. Always have other products/services that can be scaled up to meet fast changing markets. And please, respect the consumer. If you have an innovative brand, boast about it. Running ads that don’t match reality simply don’t work in this marketplace of brand-savvy customers.
If you have thoughts about the kind of business model that incoming CEO Alan Mulally could use to restart Ford, please send them in. Mulally was part of the team that turned Boeing around through drastic restructuring—and coming up with a hot new commercial jet. He’s got to do it all over again—in an industry he’s never worked in before.
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