I'm putting my professional reputation on the line but here are 5 things that could significantly alter the digital landscape as we know it. And yes, that is a video for Myspace.
It's been the butt of so many jokes from people working in digital for so long that it's hard to believe that I'm even writing these words but it looks like Justin Trousersnake has delivered the goods. And, let's not forget, lots of people USED to love Myspace. 2012 has been the year of visual social media and Myspace looks to acknowledge that in spades. If you haven't seen it yet, watch this video profiling the new site. It's getting massive props all over the internet for the stunning interface design, the timeline's horizontal flow and its potential to grab those of us with serious Facebook-fatigue, of which there are many. It looks like porting your Facebook content into Myspace will also be stunningly simple. And, if it means the end of humble-bragging, it's a good thing.
2. Microsoft Surface.
Finally, an iPad beater? Samsung have tried, but fundamentally their devices just aren't as nice to use as an iPad. Admittedly some of the potential of Surface is tied up in how strong an OS update Windows 8 proves to be but the fact the Surface comes with a micro-keyboard (with trackpad) built into it's iPad-style cover, it has HDMI and USB compatibility, it comes with a stylus for precision work, you can install full versions of software and will likely be cheaper than iPad, are HUGE plus points. If it’s as good as it looks, it'll do all the things you wish you could do on your iPad in order to seriously consider ditching your laptop.
PS: The Surface did freeze twice during the press conference demo in true Windows-style but I'm sure they are bug-fixing as we speak.
3. Social Commerce and the ‘Want’ button
We all know the internet is social, we all know social media should be part of our new marketing mix, we've also all struggled with commercialising those channels. That’s going to change as new models emerge to both socialise the ecommerce experience people are having and to commercialise people's social media experience (you might need to read that sentence twice). Fun things like Pay-with-a-tweet and Chirpify have appeared, brands like Coke have used Shoptab apps on Facebook pages to take eCommerce to their audience rather than relying on the audience to make the move themselves and Amazon (already the masters of social recommendation) have done a sterling job of integrating Facebook Connect. But there is more. Sites like the UK start-up Fantasy Shopper (in beta) are leading the way in initiating a truly social shopping experience and are a signpost to the direction social commerce is likely to take. And, with the new Facebook ‘WANT’ button on the horizon, commercialising your social media activity looks like a very real possibility for 2013.
4. Media subscriptions
Ok, this isn't new, but it's new (again) to publishing and bookselling. From the days of book clubs, magazines and Lovefilm, people have been paying for media subscriptions. Digital doesn't look set to buck that trend and in fact it's strange it's been ignored for so long. Amazon Prime, 24 Symbols and others look set to be the first to acknowledge and capitalise on the fact that people are willing to financially commit to content experiences they cherish. Spotify and Netflix have come along and proved the model works in digital and it won't be long before this becomes the norm for ebooks too. Individual purchase is an inefficient way to transact online for products you buy regularly and 2013 will likely be the year that eBook subscription really takes off.
Update: 12/10 Not that I'm a soothsayer but with the news that eBook subscription service Oyster has recieved $3 million in funding, this looks more true than ever!
And in the spirit of presenting a balanced view - Shatzkin disagrees with me, but I think his view is a little too short term.
5. Metadata, discoverability & new digital marketing techniques
Although I've mentioned this in a previous post, it belongs here. This is the year that publishers who are not seriously fine tuning their product metadata will really begin to feel the effect. With every month that passes, it's getting increasingly difficult to get your book discovered amongst the unwieldy inventory of books that exists on most websites. Those publishers that grasp the SEO principles required to facilitate discoverability and fully understand the capabilities of ONIX from a marketing perspective and not just from a technical data perspective will be able to seriously influence the performance of their products. And, those publishers that aren't considering how they should be providing the suite of assets and managing the dialogues that facilitate product discoverability through social media, search and the web in general will also start to lose out.
Exciting times or just a few more unknowns for publishers to deal with?