Users want control over their devices and their media

The drive for users to control their personal media experience is relentless.

Consider the iPhone — despite Apple’s every efforts to control user experience, people are hacking it and customizing it. Here’s a good video from David Pogue on how to hack your iPhone.

Apple is fighting back, unfortunately, with software updates, and as TechCrunch points out, Steve Jobs needs to take his own advice and “think different” rather than aspire to a telecomm command and control model.

Because, as he has so elegantly demonstrated with the iPhone, these devices are finally becoming little computers. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that consumers will expect them to act like computers. They will want to modify them to their exact, quirky predilections. They will want to use them any way they want, as a general-purpose device.

… You don’t ask Apple permission to download software off the Web for your Mac. And you would never agree to buy a laptop that only worked with only one broadband provider. Why should the iPhone be any different?

As this NYT blog post points out, Apple is fighting a losing battle against customization.

Since the iPhone is a very sleek, capable handheld computer, people are going to want to run programs on it. They are going to want to hack and see what they can build. It’s a law of nature. And Apple might as well be fighting gravity.

Apple essentially has two choices. Either it exposes most of the iPhone’s capabilities to developers. Or it will have to gird for an ever escalating war in which it will have to send ever more electronic brick-bombs to its best customers who don’t follow its strict rules.

It is foolish for any company to think that command and control is a long-term winning strategy.

And what does this have to do with the world? Go back to my posts on personal journalism and campfire media. All of the power now resides with the end user. The sooner newspaper organizations accept that fact, the quicker we will be successful.

We need to be organizing our news gathering and dissemination operations around the power of the end user, not the old command and control model of the editor. The modern news operation is participatory and open. People talk with people, not at them. Digital devices have created if not the expectation of a personal experience with media, at least end result that a personal experience resonates at a higher frequency with users.

Leave a Reply