From Disaggregation to Cross-Media Bundling

There has been alot of talk about ‘disaggregation’, of the unbundling of content, and the subsequent phenomenon of micro payments and so on. What this refers to is services like iTunes that offer the user/consumer/iPodian the opportunity to purchase a single song rather than the whole album. Or one can purchase a single article rather than subscribe to a newspaper or journal. Some recent articles on this include Sandra Hanchard of Hitwise and Tim O’Reilly of, well, O’Reilly. Many of discussions focus on the freedom of choice this permits consumers: they can choose to purchase exactly what they want, not have to buy a collection with only a few units that satisfy their needs or wants.

What this disaggregation, indeed unbundling, focus misses is the counter activity of cross-media bundling. What I recommend producers do is to offer the option of a single-fee-multiple-form. This offers the audience the chance to purchase one piece of content in many media forms. So I can pay for a book and receive an audio reading version as well as a pdf format. Or I could pay for a cinema ticket, which also sends me out a DVD, as well access to digital components online or mobisodes on my mobile. The list goes on. I think you get the point. Give audiences the chance to experience the world you’ve created in the form they want it when they want it. I may want to watch a show on TV to share the experience with friends and family but also want to be able to watch it on my iPod. Why not give me the option to purchase once and receive the content in many media forms? I think this is the future of purchasing options, along with disaggregation and so on. We can’t offer one choice, but some choices are more meaningful than others.

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