The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, may have delivered the best quote about visualizing the future when he said, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." In a simple statement that defines why he was the best ever on the ice, Gretzky summed up what every media CEO is thinking about these days.
It's not about what's happening right now - it's attempting to determine where it's all going to be. Are we in the content business or the radio business? Does it matter where consumers enjoy our programming, as long as they like it and we can get monetized for it?
So in that spirit, let's talk cell phones. As we saw in the focus groups we conducted for Arbitron last year, our 18-34 year-olds were more jazzed by cell phones than any other technical device. While many gadgets confuse or perplex women, the cell phone is something they understand and enjoy using. In fact, they are far more likely to use various cell phone offerings, such as ringtones and text messaging.
And to give you a sneak peak of our new Technology Poll, the cell phone emerges as one of the big stars. Everyone (OK, almost everyone) has a cell phone, and they're not just for talking. People use them for everything - texting, calculating tips, browsing the web, as phone directories, and for games.
And the big push is on to develop even new and better uses, including GPS, cell phone maps, and of course, video. Just recently, CBS, Fox and MTV all unleashed video deals to deliver unique content to cell phones, and a customized MySpace phone is coming to market. In December, Sprint Nextel broadcasted a live Bon Jovi concert to their cell phone customers, so we're getting very, very close.
The interesting thing is that while many people balk over paying for Internet content and services, this is not the case for cell phones. Consumers are used to shelling out fees, especially if it provides convenience and content.
So when your entire life, your favorite movies, and all your mp3 files can be played on your cell phone, where's radio going to be? How can we integrate our stations, our morning shows, and our unique content into cell phone technology? We may have missed the iPod revolution, but cell phones could end up eclipsing everything.
The puck is moving....fast.