Cheers To Time Warner… At Least Someone Besides Apple Is Reinventing The Magazine

Time Warner has set one of the best examples of a media company willing to break with old habits in order to find a path to a better place:  Not only have they initiated an industry joint venture, but they did it the right way.

Now, they’re showing some early fruits of those decisions to bust loose, in this demo video of the prototype they developed with Wonderfactory, the agency hired for product concepting and development of the tablet.

Let’s look at some of the things that Time Warner has done right.  These can be something of a cheat sheet for other companies who are willing to take big risks.

  • They didn’t wait. They saw how successful Kindle is based on all the buzz, and realized that it demonstrates an opportunity area.
  • They freed it from constraints. They broke off into a separate organization with a separate charter, to break free of existing course-of-business requirements.
  • They went off the reservation. To get truly “no constraints” thinking, they turned to an outside agency.  Smart move, since startup-within-a-BigCo projects can be hampered by all kinds of unstated — and false — assumptions from old “lessons learned” that no longer apply; and from an implicit imperative that new efforts should align with the old.

And, most importantly:

  • They are creating a new experience for consumers. More and more, content, like it or not, is a commodity.  But experiences are unique and irreplicable.  That makes them rise above, and gives consumers a reason to be excited, to buy, to use, and to come back again and again.

Whether or not the device is successful itself, this will give Time Warner an organizational advantage:  they are demonstrating not accepting the false constraints of maintaining old paradigms or riding the curve down.  That DNA impact is enormous, as it creates the license for others at that company to take risks.

Ultimately, the publishing industry is facing the problem that their “content” is relatively undifferentiated.  Time Warner has shown that they’re willing to take the risks to create a new experience that is worth noticing for consumers.

And Time Warner is further separating itself from the other media companies who are too frozen to do what it takes to try creating breakthrough consumer experiences.  Those companies will ultimately suffer, since the best path to a thriving audience — and new revenue streams — is by winning consumers over.