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Episode Info: Today we’re going to cover an essay Bill Gates wrote in 1996, a year and change after his infamous Internet Tidal Wave memo, called Content is King, a term that has now become ubiquitous. It’s a bit long but perfectly explains the Internet business model until such time as there was so much content that the business model had to change.  See, once anyone could produce content and host it for free, like in the era of Blogger, the model flipped. So here goes:  “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting. The television revolution that began half a century ago spawned a number of industries, including the manufacturing of TV sets, but the long-term winners were those who used the medium to deliver information and entertainment. When it comes to an interactive network such as the Internet, the definition of “content” becomes very wide. For example, computer software is a form of content-an extremely important one, and the one that for Microsoft will remain by far the most important. But the broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate. One of the exciting things about the Internet is that anyone with a PC and a modem can publish whatever content they can create. In a sense, the Internet is the multimedia equivalent of the photocopier. It allows material to be duplicated at low cost, no matter the size of the audience. The Internet also allows information to be distributed worldwide at basically zero marginal cost to the publisher. Opportunities are remarkable, and many companies are laying plans to create content for the Internet. For example, the television network NBC and Microsoft recently agreed to enter the interactive news business together. Our companies will jointly own a cable news network, MSNBC, and an interactive news service on the Internet. NBC will maintain editorial control over the joint venture. I expect societies will see intense competition-and ample failure as well as success-in all categories of popular content-not just software and news, but also games, entertainment, sports programming, directories, classified advertising, and on-line communities devoted to major interests. Printed magazines have readerships that share common interests. It’s easy to imagine these communities being served by electronic online editions. But to be successful online, a magazine can’t just take what it has in print and move it to the electronic realm. There isn’t enough depth or interactivity in print content to overcome the drawbacks of the online medium. If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will. They need to have audio, and possibly video. They need an opportunity for personal involvement that goes far beyond that offered through the letters-to...
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