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Issue: December 1, 2007

THE WILD WEST

By: Marc Loftus
Ask five people how to make money on the Internet and you're likely to get 10 different answers. I've often heard the 'net — and new media in general — referred to as the Wild West: unregulated, full of promise, and open to anyone with a dream and ambition.

Judging from the responses of those included in the New Media SWOT (page 50), many pros agree. All expressed excitement for the year ahead. Content will be in demand and broadband networks will continue to improve for getting rich media to the end user, as well as for collaboration purposes.

Daniel Crowder of Atlanta's Monumental spoke to me from his new iPhone. Apple, he feels, is a unique success story, as "it controls so much of the product chain." But non-iPod device manufacturers "are still trying to work out revenue models."

Crowder says Monumental's work for CNN hints at where the future is heading. "Their redesigned site is video-centric," he notes. "They have switched from a text- and image-based site to being in the forefront. Video on CNN a few years ago was an extra. Now it's a part of their core online offerings."

Wayne Crawford, executive director of NXTcomm, says telcos recognize that their "voice" business is flat, and that opportunity lies in the delivery of video to customers. They are therefore building out networks to carry high- bandwidth content, "because that's where the future revenue models will be."

Marc Grunberg of Creative Bubble is also positive about the new media revolution. Videos that used to be 5GB or 6GB, he says, can now be compressed to just 1GB and still look good on a handheld device. "The flash drives that are out there, with no moving parts, are doubling themselves, and the prices are still coming down."

User-generated content is expected to increase, and most pros hope that quality will also improve, as the democratization of tools has allowed anyone with a cell phone or camcorder to produce and post videos online, creating a lot of clutter.

Still, Grunberg is excited. "Anybody can be a part of this, and that's wonderful."