Keep Your Hand in the Wave
I hear tell that adept surfers (which I am not--the fact is that I've never surfed before in my life) have a sort of ability to 'connect' with the water they're riding by keeping a hand in wave they surf. They claim this connection--while not knowing where the wave will take them or where they will ultimately end up--helps them to ride the wave.
They say if you don't keep a hand in the wave, at best you'll be left behind; or, even worse, you'll end up wiping out altogether.
I see in this surfing technique a powerful metaphor for the 'subscription wave.'
Again, hearkening back to the Blog Business Summit in San Francisco, I listened to Microsoft's Dean Hachamovitch (General Manager of Microsoft's Internet Explorer team) and Robert Scoble (Technical Evangelist) at the keynote session entitled: "Why Microsoft is Betting Big on Bloggers and RSS." In the discussion, Dean rhetorically asked what the web is about. He then discussed the three major eras of web evolution, namely:
He correctly observed how each 'wave' of technology built upon, rather than replaced the previous one.
browse ----> search ----> subscribe
I violently agreed when he said: "Once you've tried subscribe, you just don't go back!"
Throughout his remarks (which were really very engaging) he described the things I've sensed as I've dragged my hand in the subscription wave. My web experience expectations are raised. I'm realizing greater efficiencies because the content I want comes to me automatically. I'm notified when new content arrives. And, with my RSS aggregator, I can access the content even when I'm offline. It's like having TiVo for web content.
So, in the absence of all those slow-to-come market research numbers (NOTE: there are a few interesting charts and graphs worth having a look at), Microsoft isn't waiting around for the analysts to tell them a subscription tidal wave is in the making, and they're gonna ride it!
No matter how Internet Explorer 7 turns out, I believe it will surely mainstream subscription behavior in the consumer.
I don't know about you, but my hand is in the water, and there it will stay. I'm riding this wave wherever it goes!
This is one wave you can’t afford to miss.