The secret meeting that never happened

The Big Four — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google — have divvied up control of the digital world and our digital lives. Is it a conspiracy? Would it matter if it was? Center director Jeffrey Cole explains.

This never happened. But it is as if it did.

The resulting impact on our lives is exactly the same as if it had happened. And it makes one of the world’s great conspiracy theories.

But it never happened.

As I explored in a previous column, the big four — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google — are each about 20 years old. Within 15 years, they became four of the five biggest companies in the world. Consumers have a difficult time remembering life before them. All four companies (unless you are an Android phone user and don’t use a Mac) are an essential part of our everyday lives.

If we believe in conspiracy theories, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to imagine a secret meeting, probably somewhere around 2008, in Silicon Valley…  (more)

What is a movie and why does it matter?

Is the definition of a movie only a video presentation of a certain length, or is there more to it than that? Chief Strategy Officer Brad Berens explains.

The June 30th issue of The Economist featured an excellent cover story and short lead article about how Netflix is changing the entertainment industry with one disturbing sentence: “This year its entertainment output will far exceed that of any TV network: its production of over 80 feature films is far larger than any Hollywood studio’s.”

The disturbing bit is “feature films.” This term originated in the glory days of cinema (pre-television) when movies were the world’s most popular entertainment. Viewers would happily enter theaters for hours to watch a newsreel, a short subject, a cartoon, and then the main movie or “feature.” The notion of “feature films” is linked to the movie theater with what I thought was an unbreakable chain, but apparently not. . . (more)

Web Insight: are you an intense sports fan?

In the Center’s Study on Sports Fan Behavior and Media Use, we surveyed people who said that they follow at least one sport in season. We also asked them to classify themselves as intense fans, moderate fans, casual fans, a friend or companion of a sports fan but not very engaged themselves, or not really a sports fan.

We looked at who was most likely to classify him/herself as an intense sports fan. A few demographic characteristics stand out.  (more)

At a glance: who uses mobile banking for their checking?

From the Center’s Future of Money and Banking Study
Infographic by Andrew Hsieh
See all of the Center’s infographics here.

"I think it would be fun to run a newspaper"

Billionaires buying newspapers, whether for vanity or public service, may be the best hope for the future of journalism, explains Center director Jeffrey Cole.

The past 20 years have not been good for the newspaper business. Print journalism was disrupted by the internet with little warning. Much of the advertising revenue that sustained quality print journalism has been transferred to Google and Facebook, leaving most newspapers a shell of their former selves.

At the Center, we have seen for 18 years that interest in news and information is greater than ever; however, that interest does not easily translate into reading newspapers. Sadly, we see that every time a print newspaper reader dies, he or she is not replaced by a new reader. The ultimate outcome is clear and inevitable.

In the midst of all this bad news, there are some very encouraging developments. The digital divisions of America’s leading newspapers are booming. In this column I look at four of America’s best known, most successful, and award-winning newspapers: the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. (more)

Web Insight: what kind of bank do you use?

In the Center’s Future of Money and Banking Study, we asked what kind of banking institutions people use: local or regional banks (associated with a city, county, state, or part of the country), national banks (like Wells Fargo, Chase, or Bank of America), or international/foreign banks.

Overall, 49% said they used local or regional banks, 63% national companies, and just 2% foreign institutions.

How are these views affected by income and race/ethnicity?  (more)

See all of the Center’s Web Insights here.

Center releases report on the future of money and banking

Nearly 60 percent of American banking customers would consider moving their money to accounts offered by familiar companies, such as online retailers, search engines, or big-box stores, even though they have no experience with financial services, according to a new study on the future of money and banking by the Center.

“We strongly believe banking is the next industry to be completely disrupted by digital change,” said Jeffrey Cole, director of the center. “Our research shows customers are far ahead of the banks in looking to the web and apps as their preferred banking methods.

Download the Future of Money and Banking Report here.

Center report explores the future of transportation

The Center has unveiled a first-of-its-kind study on the future of transportation — a project that explores the spectrum of American behavior and views about their cars, public transit, reasons to give up driving, new competitors in the automobile industry, distracted driving, and the arrival of self-driving cars.

“Most research covers the transportation revolution from an industry perspective, but our new study focuses on the actual behavior and attitudes of the U.S. population,” said Brad Berens, chief strategy officer for the center and project lead for the study.

The 42-page Future of Transportation Study explores more than 100 issues involving behavior and views about cars, their alternatives, and emerging needs for technology.

Download the Future of Transportation Report here.

Center for the Digital Future releases 15th annual report on the impact of digital technology in the U.S.

The 152-page “Surveying the Digital Future” includes findings on more than 160 issues, among them: the importance of the internet in political campaigns, government regulation and the internet, online buying and effects on retail shopping, personal freedom online, privacy and personal security, and negative attention (bullying and sexual harassment).

More about the report here.

Download the report here.

Center director Jeffrey Cole discusses media trends


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Center director Jeffrey Cole explores transformation of the media for the keynote address at the 2018 annual leadership meeting of the Interactive Advertising  Bureau.

View the video.