It happens in cycles that every so often ones comfort zones are shaken, and when the disruption happens one must either adapt or die and be committed to the dead pool. The wave hits both startups and well established juggernauts who enjoy various “monopolistic” benefits. The financial industry was the first to get hit with the rapid rise of mobile money. The old guards at the banking sector that held sway were caught flat-footed but tried to fight it nonetheless. The result however confirms that you cannot fight an idea whose time has come with the large majority having embraced mobile money in its different flavors, investing millions to get up to speed.
Technology’s eye has chosen the next vertical and it is clear that industry soothsayers have lost their touch and read it wrong. Early this week, Kenyans were treated to a media riot that saw three leading media houses snuff their signal transmissions in protest of a ruling that ensured the much awaited digital migration is still firmly on track. The national broadcaster was still on air across the various platforms with other smaller players opting not to participate.
It is rather unfortunate that well heeled media conglomerates have adopted a pack mentality thinking that they are possibly safe in numbers. The metric they have chosen to measure their strategy is wrong, and should instead look that the millions of empowered and increasingly connected consumers who will not flinch to switch and move to the next platform that delivers on what they need; and with them goes the advertising monies. Media is a mass market, long tail play akin to retail and every hour a mega mart is closed, margins go up for the local kiosk.
The biggest losers will be those that stand on the podium as startups and other entrants who have developed strategies to ride the wave start implementing and became even more attractive to capital with the neutering of the hitherto untouchables. While there may be a case to what they presented in court, there are many ways the big three could have gone about preparing for the new technological dispensation. The use cases are in plain sight from other markets , lessons evident and capital should not be in short supply if they are to continue delivering on shareholder value.
Media distribution has been broken for a long time, consumption is fragmented and the consumer has had to make do for lack of any alternatives; not anymore.