We're In a Media Revolution: Apple is Leading the Way

While checking out of a CVS last night I overheard a girl talking to the guy behind the cash register about her iPhone. She had the first version of the phone but appeared to be extremely satisfied with it. She was telling the cashier about all of the cool things she can do with the phone. “I can rent movies just like Blockbuster right on to my phone”, she said to the cashier.

As she walked away from checking out the cashier turned to his co-worker and said, “I’m buying an iPhone.” No matter how much the phone costs, I have no doubt in my mind that he is going to now go and purchase the new iPhone within the next month or two. He’s not the only one. iPhones are sold out around the country and when I went to the mall two days ago, there were still long lines to purchase the phone!

I have some serious complaints about the phone but I think the notion of being able to easily navigate the web, interact with your friends and family and consume all of your favorite media from one device is game changing. The most significant change is that the mainstream is going to once again get access to a plethora of fresh, niche content but not just while sitting at their computer. Instead it will arrive in the palm of their hands.

Last year when Facebook opened their platform it sparked a movement. That movement continues today as MySpace, Bebo, and on Wednesday Facebook, continue to extend their platforms beyond their walled gardens. That’s only a small part of the story though. If you thought the internet was a catalyst for the development of a massive amount of niche content for consumers, I think the iPhone and future mobile platforms could spark an even greater revolution.

The new iPhone could help rapidly extend the reach of podcasts in addition to other forms of media. There is a race right now for applications to gain a significant share of the market. For instance, Pandora is now the default radio for the iPhone. Not a bad place to be. Where is Clear Channel, CBS Radio and the other large radio companies? Nowhere! The only other radio platform is Virgin Radio which launched two days after the iPhone 2.0 upgrade was released. Currently they are being trounced by Pandora though.

The rise of niche media that many web entrepreneurs are betting heavily on have been absent of one thing: a mainstream distribution channel. While there are niche T.V. shows through portal sites like Yahoo and AOL, there is now a new land grab for dominance on the relatively open iPhone platform. That land grab, in my own opinion, is bigger than any of the previous platform land grabs in the past decade.

Last year it took Mark Zuckerberg to reignite the revolution. As Kara Swisher wrote yesterday, “It’s more than a little ironic, then, that about a year ago it was the social-networking site that reinvigorated the idea of the importance of having a platform that a multitude of developers could thrive on.” She continues, “Microsoft has nourished an ecosystem of developers for its powerful Windows software platform for, like, forever. But Facebook surely made the idea bigger, looser, wilder and more exciting.”

Facebook helped to revive the idea of a platform empowering developers. Apple has taken that idea one step further by making it sexy and making it portable. Oh and by the way, it’s also social! With the close timing of the iPhone launch and f8, I think this month may just be one of the primary drivers behind the continued transformation of the social web for the next 12 months.