In the toolbox of many strategic planning exercises there is a technique called Scenario Planning. What one does is to take two, or perhaps three, major drivers where uncertainty exists as to a “yes” or “no” result and then describe the world based on alternative outcomes. For example, a 2-parameter model would have 4 alternatives; a 3-parameter model, 8.
Years ago we did this for eBooks in the Higher Education market space and used two factors (four possible outcomes):
- Infinite bandwidth at a finite cost, i.e. would users be able to get the content they needed quickly and at little cost?
- Adoption — would users (teachers and students) want to use that content more than physical content?
I believe that the first factor has in fact been achieved, and that what we are looking for a significant change in acceptance (and production) of eContent. I have long felt that eContent is different from physical books and needs to be priced differently as a site license rather than a unit based model because of the inherent cost structure of high fixed, low variable costs.
Now the interesting question is adoption. If we were to conduct a scenario for universal adoption, what would the two factors be?
- Natural evolution of todays generation of device users
- Educators changing the teaching and learning process
- Economics of higher education costs
- Pricing of content to end user
- Governmental intervention
- Better tools for creating electronic materials
- Ubiquitous availability of materials (for free) on the Internet
- Evolution of Course Management Systems
Time for a “Future of the Book II?”