Posts Tagged ‘future’

Premedia & Consumer White Goods?

January 12, 2010

Almost every week  we hear or see something that we think is absolutely pointless – and then there’s some stuff that will revolutionise the way we use devices! So today I was challenged to ‘blog’ about two such devices and how they fit into our pre-media landscape.

Firstly let’s look at what I was directed to….. Yes you got it, a Microwave and a Washing Machine with a 7 inch touchscreen Android embedded system!!!

Seems pretty pointless right?

Well if your client is one of these manufacturers then definitely not, since you probably hold all of the company’s digital assets and brand material and therefore you are in a prime position to offer some sort of content management services and facilities for these devices. There is a whole supply chain process that would be involved in getting content fit for purpose on these new touch devices and sure, they may not hit mainstream consumer purchasing while the technology prices are still high for this type of implementation, but really when you think about it, is it no cheaper for manufacturers to reduce costs by providing less choice – i.e. not have to have so many parts to maintain?

Whilst pre-media companies need to diversify, are they really able to make a leap into consumer device application development? Or is it a step too far? We already see the big boys in the industry providing iPhone apps for their suites of applications to help their clients feel more in-touch with workflow. So they have huge technology & development departments dedicated to application development and who’s to say they won’t be able to transition their already gathered user interaction experience into the mainstream consumer device application market?

I don’t know about you, but I have a nice shiny new touch screen Samsung phone, the downside is the frustration of my fat fingers trying to get to the letters of applications I need instead of constantly selecting the option next to the one I want – so is touch just a storm in a tea cup? or will it be the next revolution of consumer products?

I won’t go into why you would ever want wireless networking, browsing, etc. on your washing machine because I always thought that the fridge that kept track for the contents and add depleted stocks to your shopping list was a great idea, but in practise would it really work? What about the fridge/freezer with an LCD TV embedded in the door? Well great, so you design your new kitchen around the fridge being in the optimal viewing position while you cook dinner!

The future is all touchy feely

With Apple supposedly releasing a tablet style touch screen device in the coming months it is clear that they would have done their research enough to know that the time is right for that style of device (let’s hope that they are not banking on the success for the iTouch/iPhone as a benchmark for people to spend 3 to 4 times as much on a tablet device!). We have also seen a number of conceptual designs for paper style digital magazines/newspapers – again odd since the Kindle/Irex/Sony ebook readers hardly made mass market! There are plenty of new opportunities for pre-media companies to get a handle on where their future profits come from and try and cash in on the new pre-media output channels that are constantly appearing.  All application, user interface and user help systems require assets, supply chains, workflows and content management so have you thought about what your customers are working on in their roadmap to ensure you are considering it in your strategic plans as well?

Author: Gary George

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Is the UK Cashing in on Advertising?

October 8, 2009

My old friend Andy Fraser happened to be over in Germany last week when he dropped me an email on our whole POD print concept. He found in a newsagent over there that they are already providing POD for the international editions of our favourite papers. And you know, I have myself experienced these POD papers when staying in Europe a few weeks back.IMG_0837

When sitting down for breakfast I picked up a copy of the New York Times global edition. This must of been printed locally and delivered to this and probably 100 other hotels around the area. The one thing that struck me as odd and pleasing in the same breath was the lack of advertising in this paper, other than a few scattered ads for subscribing to the global edition and then just one…. yes ONE paid advert for a watch. The following morning unfortunately someone else had got  to the NY Times before me, so I picked up The Independent International  Edition and sure enough the Brits had fully cashed in on the advertising with a total of 22 ads in the 48 pages of the paper. And we’re not talking about little classified ads here, we’re talking full page or half page in your face ads. So being that I found this a little intrusive with my breakfast, I proceeded to lookup the subscription price for The Independant and since it is clearly being supported by advertising, I was expecting a pretty low rate. But no… £894!! for the Monday to Sunday editions…. Well cotton my wee little socks, not only are they taking that daily advertising revenue, but to obtain the copy you are paying a big subscription fee (lets work that out…. emm oh over £2.40 a paper, thats over 5p a page since the edition I read only had 48 pages…..)

So, the hotel (or me if I subscribed) would have paid out all that money, to be forced to read untargeted UK based advertising (not that useful when you are in Germany knowing that you can get your tomatoes half price at Sainsbury’s that day) and filled with news that has been editorially altered to be shorter for a smaller paper!

Is there a Cognitive Mismatch Between Newspaper Execs And Newspaper Readers? I’ve been following the article on TechDirt with the same title and adding my own comments, but it actually brings me back to my own A Possible Future For Newsprint series where if you are paying for the content, why not choose the content you want to read.
Author: Gary George

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The Cost of Staying in the Creative Game

September 28, 2009

It’s been some time now since I’ve had to worry about such things, but today companies are faced with the declining economies all around the globe and fight for ways to save money that comes straight of their bottom line. As these companies reach out to outsourcing companies they are shifting the responsibility and requirement of software licensing onto the outsource partner. Great plan! But we are now seeing that our outsourcers are becoming more up-to-date that our own businesses…. How can this be, I mean every year our departmental heads have to submit a budget and it should come as no surprise to them the release cycles of the major software manufacturers; Adobe every 18 months, Quark around 2 years, Font software annually etc, etc. So just why are our business not up-to-date?

burning-money1Why is it we tend to find design agencies rushing out to buy the latest releases, yet our larger pre-media organizations lag so far behind – these are organizations with procurement teams and large accounts departments, departments so intent on saving money that they burn it by not planning ahead.

And why is it so few pre-media companies take advantage of the maintenance plans that the Adobe’s & Quark’s of this world offer; plans that would bring their total cost of ownership down by 50% let alone the amount administration that is then involved in writing business cases for the upgrades to justify to the board why the company needs this software. Is that not  just the price of staying in the game, the cost of supplying the key tools to the business vertical you are in?

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The Future of Premedia – Part 1 – The Stage

September 2, 2009

It’s been more than a week since my last blog and this one comes in collaboration with Peter van Teeseling as he has some ideas on this subject, together we have a shared vision of what the future premedia service offerings will be.

To start a series of blogs covering each subject in more detail I will first set the stage, some food for thought if you like.

The Future

As we all have probably read, RR Donnelly’s likes to break news about the new technologies they introduce into their portfolio of products they offer to their clients, the majority of companies out there don’t have the buying power or engineering resource to develop at that scale…. or do they….

There is so much news and opinion today about how small business are now able to utilise technology and react to change a far faster pace than these large organisations. This is possible due to the empowering technologies, the outsourcing of resource to third world countries and the power of open source communities that are refining the technologies beyond what any corporation is able to do.

So what’s changing and what will redefine the future of premedia?

We have seen the explosion of web based media content delivery to our desktops or should I say our browsers. Networks have taken 10 fold leaps speed while the content we are creating seems to grow with every new version of our creative applications, while our connections from the outside world into these services or these platforms are now available via hot-spots almost everywhere in the western civilized world. Storage is no longer a limitation to what we can store and our machines, our infrastructures and our experience is better than it has ever been.

There are disruptive technologies in play that will change the face of premedia and remove all the constraints that force people to install specific applications, in fact they will completely change the way corporations sell software. SAAS is nothing new to many IT people, but in the world where desktop applications dominated the sales channels there is a move to make them server based.

We have seen a raise in the power of technologies like Flash, Ajax, Flex etc. that have provided new ways to interact with content online. Take Adobe’s first stab at this when they introduced Acrobat.com – strangely named since creating PDF’s was only a fraction of what they offered on the site – today, after a lot of refinement, they offer a pretty damn good collaboration and meeting platform with Adobe Connect and are adding more services such as Buzzword, Presentation, Sharing and Storage in the form of Myfiles. Seems like similar services to Google to me…. .but actually this then provides Adobe a playground to see how users would react and interact with the interfaces while they are building their next service platform Photoshop.com. Bruce Chizen stated sometime ago that Adobe will transfer all application to a web-based platform – so where will that put us in the services we are able to offer our clients?

Photoshop.com is in its infancy, yet it is placing the basic tools of Photoshop Elements to the masses for free, it displays that with programming and the new tools it is possible to access advanced features for photo editing that were once only available via a desktop application, making the web browser a new platform or application interface that removes the constraints of installation. Looking at what more can be done, Adobe could use Air to provide a mixture of local and online services providing the speed and flexibility of any environment – same platform, just a different flavour. As Photoshop.com matures and newer features are added, more premedia companies will see the technology as embeddable into their DAM portals to redefine their operational ability, this could lead to new was to outsource or place the power of the user anywhere they can access the web.

Adobe even provide you an extremely powerful tool to build these new user interfaces without the need for complex programming with the addition of Flash Cataylst allowing new professional interaction design for rapidly creating user interfaces.

Looking at the page layout ability, the applications have really reached their limits of functionality on the desktop. Yes new features will be added, but most of these will be refinements on old features that took too much time to do and both Quark & Indesign are now offering extensive server based solutions that use the same engines that drive the desktop applications. What does this do for companies? Well, it is limited only by your imagination of the web application; so far we have only seen web2print applications or print on demand systems built for commercial sales, companies out there will have integrated this into their service offering somehow, you can rest assured that large companies have these technologies tucked under their bonnets. Is there any limitation? No, and actually the barriers of entry will be lowered the more people use and integrate the functionality. Yet there is a threat, as the raising of outsourcing operations increases their awareness of western operational need, they too will build services based on technologies that we are still building our business cases for.

There are plenty of excellent examples of great user operability sites out there. Imagine translating these into your customer portal and delivering services based on artwork asset management!

Look out for the next part of this series where we will explore the new world of online digital image manipulation and how that will affect the services offered.

Author: Gary George

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A possible future for newsprint – Part 4

August 16, 2009

Like most things, ideas or visions need time to mature, gain momentum and have the vision crystalized by others that review that idea. So firstly, many thanks to 3 such people who over the last 2 days have helped give the idea more shape and draw some attention to it, many thanks to Michael Josefowicz, Jeff Lazerus and Peter van Teeseling for providing dialogue that has fuelled this next entry into the Tunicca blog.

Right the first topic to add to the Newspaper Kiosk idea has to be how we can actually produce the pages fast enough to ensure the consumer, commercially available products are hard to come by currently that will print 4 colour in a small format, but my old friend Andy Fraser found this one, Memjet, small enough to have a few of them in my newspaper kiosk to ensure that your personalized paper is available in seconds. This is with exploring what companies like HP, Canon, Oce etc etc might have to offer, infact these companies would actually have the manufacturing might to produce the whole kiosk unit…. News corps watch out!

Prepay CardsBut what about the way to identify who you are in order to get your personalized news out, well I’ve been thinking that a prepay card as is being used by the Evening Standard in the UK is a little clumsy as it would require a card reader, although having a manual login process via the touchscreen offers a backup, the whole kiosk revolves around speed and the ability to get that personalized news out in a matter of seconds, so how about RDIF technology, maybe embedded into a key-fob? Ok, yes the infrastructure to actually do that is now getting beyond the original scope, but since this is going to be so disruptive to the newspaper industry anyway, why not go full pelt into it and ensure that you use technology fitting to the solution.

TargetSo how about the ordering of your preference of news, Peter showed me how the Dutch website Sync.nl uses a target and tag cloud to decide how much of a subject you wish to receive, as the subject gets to the outside of the target the words point size decreases. Nice idea! Sync.nl actually uses a relatively small target, and with news being so diverse and the ability in our system to use specific search terms as well and that it is easy today to add all sorts of dynamics to data mining we could add some sliders around the target to control them.

When you choose!So one last technology to add to this equation is what the HP company already offers in the form of Tabbloid, this provides the ability to source your news from RSS feeds at a schedule of your choice and format them into printable format… What’s different from this than say Google Reader? well the fact that it formats it into a presentable format that you can print and take with you is a plus for those who want to take their favorite feeds on the go.

question markCollectively with all of the innovating websites out there, a lot of what is required for this vision is there, they just need to be bought together. It’s clear that paper based news is far from dead, but the way it is delivered needs to evolve with the consumer demand for the way it wants to be read. With the massive question mark over the value of advertising and if there is a true conversion into cash for the investment into the current publishing model, the ability to deliver focused and relevant advertising based on the subscribers demographics could provide a new lease of life and revenue for both advertiser and publisher.

Oh and I really want to add some stuff about the QR codes but it isn’t really my area, so maybe you could head over to Michael’s blog to find out more.
Author: Gary George

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Are today’s captain’s of industry yesterday news?

July 29, 2009

It’s no surprise that the old adage of don’t fix what isn’t broken has been completely disrupted by all of the modern technology and the fast moving pace to off load everything your company once did to someone else….

Our industry is lead by what we herald as ‘Captains of Industry’ people who have been around the block more than a few times and have plenty of business acumen, but the question have these captains past their sell by date with their ability to adapt to the changing business environments. Much like the current UK government, have they lost touch with what their customers really want?

These captains of the industry are often the expensive employees of the enterprise companies they gennerally have a lifespan beween 24 to 96 months. The objectives they commit to the board of directors, shareholders are always based on infinite growth, the acquisition of competitors and an EBIT value over 20%. The same captains of the industry act now as highly paid consultants to strip the companies ”they made” to normal proportions. Te effecivly cashing in twice on the positions they once held.

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Apple Tablet Device

July 29, 2009

Right, lets think about this for just one second…… Apple Tablet Device…. hold up, didn’t this already get tried with PC’s with very limited success….? I know they have their uses, I mean I keep on seeing the popping up on CSI NY and always think to myself, I don’t see a power lead trailing behind them, as we all know PC laptops have notoriously poor battery life along with an extremely poor battery life span. (yes I know so many people who use a laptop for just browsing the web and have to do it plugged in!)

Concept

So have you cungered up some images yet, or seen the rumor  articles out there? Well here are a few of the images or should I say concepts returned from a simple google search, these just represent the number of concepts people have speculated about, yet Apple remain tight lipped as usual.

Concept

So as much as I love our friends over at Apple and believe that the superb manufacturing capabilities battery life and software would make this a rather desirable device, I have to wonder how many units they will actually be able to sell. Do they have a specific target market for it?

Concept

It is true that most people really enjoy using an Iphone or Itouch for the flexibility and convenience, but a 10″ device doesn’t exactly slip into your pocket. And what would people actually use it for in our world, I’m struggling to think of even one use other than empressing a potential customer at a meeting!

I guess they will make very nice (and expensive) Iphoto Frames if they come with a rear stand like some of the other photos suggest.

Well undoubtly if Apple are planning a release they would have researched the market to ensure they can capitalize on the device to ensure the shareholders remain happy in this failing ecomony!

Author: Gary George

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Are you able to adopt new technology in your supply chain?

July 28, 2009

PDF

Diversity was once what brand owners required to stay afresh with new and inspiring campaigns, product designs, marketing efforts, but there is now a growing trend to reduce the number of suppliers that the brand owner uses in order to reduce the amount of effort required to manage them. Some pre-media companies have offered the brand owners the ability to manage their suppliers through their supplied portal at a management fee guaranteeing them at least some of the action, where as others have put up and shut up about being pushed to the side line because they didn’t cut the mustard, or they didn’t pay for the round of golf!

But today we see the suppliers (the pre-media companies) to the brand owners are facing a number of battles fuelled by disruptive technologies and spurred on by the technology providors. These battles can be labelled under one single term… PROGRESSION. Silly really that progression would become as much an enabler and a disabler. Lets take a look at what has been going on…..

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Who’s counting my output? The need for more Print on Demand

July 8, 2009

For some years now we have been automating the process of pre-press (and now pre-media) to make it super efficient -some opted for outsourcing whilst others opted for setting up business units in far away lands where the cost of labour is really cheap, unfortunately it’s a far cry from Sean’s beach photo in the Hot At Vyre post and more like mine here.

news-graphics-2006-_627785aThe focus moved onto improving the process within the manufacturing facilities to ensure that the capacity could be managed with fewer staff and thus allow the company to remain competitive on price. More and more technology was deployed to allow greater savings on the actual cost of production ensuring that the quality of the separations that are going to plate providing a good amount of ink optimization (previously done at repro stage) that provided an equally as good cost saving on ink, but never at the expenses of the quality of the final product.

As the business requirements change for all types of printed materials, with marketing now requiring their campaigns to target audiences that no longer want the nuisance of paper, and with the need for packaging to be sustainable, we see new business models emerging into market verticles that were traditionally bulk print channels. To add to this, there is a growing trend in personalization; this without fail requires a minimum order quantity of one!

So lets take a snapshot of a few markets that have been affected over the last 5 years by the decline of the bulk order.

Books & the raise of self publishing

There was once a time when publishers would sign an author against an estimated volume of sales and pay the author an advance before he/she had even written a word. Today it’s possible for anyone to write his or her own book and publish it with ease using everyday sites like Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and Lulu. How is the possible? In the complex world of book publishing, companies like Lightning Source or The Book Printing Company provide retailers the ability to order minimum quantities, even Ingram the largest US distributor of books will carry stock of POD items to ensure they can supply the stores the required quantity on demand.

warehouse_longviewThe ability to Print On Demand for the book industry opened a new business model that wasn’t based on the traditional need to warehouse, ship and return unsold of books, the cost of the actual print was, although higher than the bulk as an immediate cost, it actually would take  a run of around 750 copies to get the offset printing cost per book down to the print-on-demand cost. Here’s where the print-on-demand and traditional publishing models diverge. There never are “large quantities” involved with POD, there are never books to warehouse or cash to tie up in inventory. Even more important for a small publisher using a service such as Lightning Source or The Book Printing Company, there is no shipping cost for books sold into the distribution channels.

One company is working on bringing print on demand to the out of print book market, KirtasBooks.com has a collect of 235,000 books, all pre-1923 and plan to more than double that in the coming weeks, what’s more their innovative scanning methods and the use of the Cooliris technology allows them to provide a free online viewing, but not stopping there they also have an Invest In Knowledge program that allows you to subsidize the cost of digitizing the book in return for 5% of the future books takings. Content providers can partner with KirtasBooks and provide their MARC records to make them instantly available for sale, the books are then digitized on demand as well!

The decline of music sales

compact_discOk so moving from the printed word to the vibrating sound waves of music, I won’t cover the raise and fall of the music industry, Steve Knopper did a well enough job of that in his book Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age But the rollercoster ride that saw the music industry change from the large format vinyl printed on stiff board and cassette inlays with double sided 18 folded paper, into the era of the CD then onto the digital download has had a massive impact on the pre-media industry. Once an industry of double time overtime and over night “must have” campaigns followed by print runs into the 100’s of thousands, now we see that the distuptive force of the internet and the raise of broadband speed access as all but removed the quantity order. It hasn’t completely removed the requirement for the printed copy that people can buy instore or online, but the sales of this format are in a decline and new business models need to be found inorder for the music companies to maintain this retail channel, no longer can they afford to print and replicate 100’s of thousands of copies to sit in warehouses or on shop shelfs unsold, even worse to be returned to the distributors when the shop needs the shelf space for stock rotation. Lower cost options need to happen and Print On Demand for lower quantities with no wastage and less material costs.

Magazine readership

First City MediaWe all read that magazine readership is down, and publishers are producing less magazines and sure we have seen some of our favorites disappear, but has the consumer actually been affected by at least 2 forces? Firstly the amount of choice the readers have, you only need to walk into a newsagents and look at the amount of women’s gossip magazines there are to see that there is an abundance of choice, the second is manufacturing and distribution costs.

You would think that as the years have gone by the the cost of producing the printed matter has been reduced, and for sure it has been, pre-media automation, manufacturing automation, digital photograpghy etc etc the list will go on for ever, but the cost of distribution and the fight for shelf space is leading publishers to take a look at new output streams, still produced by the traditional pre-media suppliers and still printed, just in smaller quantities and also provided in the new form of a digital magazine. Yesterday I was flicking through one of our industry magazines…. online! No printed matter what so ever, yet I can assure you it is still printed and sent if it’s subscribers.

Another example of how the printed pages are also available online is with Ceros,  with over 100 titles available in a slick digital viewing format. It has the ability to add interactivity and moving adverts into what seems like the same as the static content you would get from a printed copy. One of my favourites that isn’t available in printed form is IGizmo, yes not available in printed form and yes it’s free!

These new output streams are undoubtedly distrupting the printed versions reducing the order quantities, but new models for distribution to reach the reader base need to be explored, it’s not that people are anti printed material, but they want the convience to get it when and where they want, why is it that subscription prices are so much lower that the shop shelf price…. and maybe it could fit into my vision of a possible future of news print…..

Distribution of home entertainment

DVD-VideoAs with the music industry, the home entertainment has also been through the mill with a number of format wars over the past decade, when DVD burst onto the scene and the cost of the consumer home units reached prices that the masses could afford, so the demand for DVD rocketed. Sales were through the roof as consumers were happy to pay a premium for films they owned and watched on their ropey VHS player, people proceeded to replenish their collections with the pristine picture quality of DVD. Then the slump hit, stocks piled up around the globe and reorders slowed down; the replicators begun to suffer and some had to shut up shop….. along comes another format war to disrupt both consumer and manufacturing, the Bluray – HD-DVD  formats paved the way to wastage on an astronomical scale that again (remeber the DAT tape or the minidisc that consumers invested in only to slip away un-noticed) hit the consumers who backed HD-DVD, who would have known which way it would go, and people were holding onto their pennies to be safe, thus neither format was moving in any sort of quantity….. Was it the inclusion of Bluray into the PS3 that tipped the scales, or was it the sheer power of the studio’s that backed the format?

With a new format, a decline in sales of the old format, new manufacturing models and a reduction of orders a new business model needs to be formulated to move away from the 1000 unit order and move towards smaller minimum quantities…. The studios need to move away from the old paradigm of manufacturing and into an ondemad one to reduce the cost of production.

The future

In just 4 examples of consumer facing products that have been disrrupted by the changing times, all have had an impact on the pre-media and print world of manufacturing we see the need for new business models to handle the changing distribution requirements that fill now just one of the consumer engagement output stream. Print On Demand has never been so relevant to reduce the manufacturing costs and allow smaller order quantities. The increase of personlization will fuel a new wave of consumer driven products and manufacturers are able to make the most of todays technology. Those that struggle to move forward wont’ be left behind, but will suffer from a decline in their consumer support and awareness.

Author: Gary George

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A possible future for NewsPrint? – Part 1

June 10, 2009

Here I am again gassing away about an idea that I shared with some people I know (Andy Frazer & Andrzej Wojtowicz) on our Linkedin Tunicca Premedia Lounge, the idea focused about a kiosk for newspapers that provided user focussed content that was printed on demand.

Originally I was thinking this was a bit of a dumb idea, but through email discussions with the guys it would appear that actually we could actually be on a winner here….. let’s look at what it would be and why it might actually work!

Starting with the kiosk idea, well, when we are out and about we see various types of kiosks already, really in open spaces as we have far too many vandals in the UK, but in public places with easy access and high traffic volumes; namely I’m thinking of these ones:

  • Ticket machines
  • Passport Photo Kiosk
  • Digital Photo Kiosks
  • Internet Kiosks
  • Vending Machines

vendingcig machine
You get the drift here….

We’ve even started to see (albeit a little to small for this project) but mobile device charging stands. So the idea of self service is nothing new to the consumer, the consumers actually have the freedom to pick and choose what news content they wish to read when they are on the web; with the raise of mobile devices like the Blackberry and Iphone, even more people dip into the news on them while mobile….

But what if, a consumer could go to his local newsagents on the way to work and a personalised copy of his news is there waiting for him, or he states an arrival time at a destination station where he would collect his paper from. What about getting on a flight and being able to select the language of the paper you wish you read as well as the type of content….

What would you pay? We’re currently happy to pay up to £2 for a newspaper and we’re happy to pick up the disposable ad ridden free papers on our way home, both times we have content a few hours old, so what if that content was uber current, what if you could change your preferences as you like…. you can on the web, so my not on paper, what if you don’t want advertising just pure news (take the New York Times ‘Times Reader’ as an example. Even cash is now electronic in the form of prepay cards, credit cards, bank cards and online virtual accounts.

All the content already exists as digital content that is tagged with all types of keywords & metadata about it, it all already exists in the cyber world for free, yet we still use paper based products, so why not give them the upgrade they really deserve.

Could tomorrow’s newsstand be a super fast low maintenance digital print shop???? I would like to see this idea become a reality. It really would take POD to the next level with some many different applications that could utilize the speed and efficiency of the aggregated online world into the paper form to read on the train or in the park for example.

I could talk for hours on this one, but I hope you can viualize from this image what the future may look like when you collect a paper in years to come.

newsstand2

Author: Gary George