Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick, was known as the Kingmaker. Indeed, the term appears in the most recent version of the Oxford dictionary available to me. At this point, people are surely asking why I’m beginning a brief on a mass media figure with an introduction of a British noble that assumed his tenure before Johannes Gutenberg developed his printing press.
“Content is King’ is a phrase with which few in the field of mass media are unfamiliar. In an age of rapidly increasing fragmentation and concomitant specialization, it is a phrase with which few would readily disagree. This rather narrow perspective ignores entirely the mechanisms through which content is transformed into mass media.
Few have had such a influential hand in changing the way we distribute content than Steven Paul Jobs. Were it not for Jobs, the mechanism through which I am addressing you would not exist. The podcast was a byproduct of Steve Jobs’ revolutionary iPod, a device that singlehandedly changed the way people consume music as well as the way people buy music.
The iPod was not Steve Jobs only impact on the distribution of media. Well before the iPod, Steve Jobs delivered the Macintosh; the first mass market computer featuring a graphical user interface. The Macintosh revolutionized the way consumers interact with digital media.
Briefly following the introduction of the Macintosh, Jobs’ Apple Computer introduced one of the first mass market laser printers. Combined with the Macintosh computer, Apple’s Laser Writer would give birth to the desktop publishing era, enabling the public at large to engage in professional grade publishing. While market figures pale by comparison to the notion of a device that effectively put a printing press in anyone’s home or office, the desktop publishing market would grow to over twenty-five billion dollars by 2000.
While the desktop publishing industry blossomed, Jobs set about transforming the way consumers both bought and listened to music. The aforementioned iPod led Apple to introduce the iTunes Music Store in 2003. By 2011, sales of digital music would exceed sales from traditional channels.
Even as digital became the dominant mechanism of distribution for music, Jobs labored to deliver still more content to users. In 2005 the newly renamed iTunes Store expanded to include television programming. Many series were available within a day of the original airing. A year later the iTunes Store expanded again to bring users films from nearly every major studio. Just four years thereafter Apple would introduce its iBooks application bringing works from nearly every major publisher into the iTunes Store. The same model would also be used by Apple to deliver software, a process soon copied by industry giants Google and Microsoft.
While Jobs labored to deliver still more and more content via the iTunes Store, he oversaw the development of two new media consumption devices: the iPhone and the iPad. In 2007, Apple launched the iPhone. Not only did the iPhone steer the entire cell phone industry toward touchscreen technology, it delivered mobile mass media access to consumers. Shortly thereafter it wasn’t uncommon to see somebody catching up on their favorite television series as they waited in line at the grocery. The iPhone delivered most of the functionality of our desktop and laptop computers along with our televisions and DVD players, portable CD players, and more.
The iPhone was followed by the iPad. The iPad turned the personal computing industry on its head by finally delivering tablet computers that consumers wanted to use. The sales figures speak for themselves with over one hundred million units sold in the first two years of production.
Utilizing the digital distribution model it had developed to deliver music to iPod owners, Apple delivered a diverse cornucopia of mass media ranging from books and film to periodicals and software to iPhone owners. Similar model were soon adopted by other industry giants including Google and Microsoft.
Time and time again Steven Jobs has changed the way people access media. Lacking tools such as those produced by Jobs and other luminaries, the content of our mass media would lack the diverse and widespread audience it enjoys today.
Thank you for your time!