Reading is going to go completely online. ... Today, for people who read newspapers and magazines, even the most avid PC user probably still does quite a bit of reading on print. As the device moves down in size and simplicity, that will change, and so somewhere in the next five-year period we'll hit that transition point, and things will be even more dramatic than they are today.
Gates is right, and that probably has old-school print people trembling. More change? Even more radical than what we've already seen? You bet. We're already doing a lot of reading on fixed and portable computer screens, but the change has only begun. Lightweight laptops, Blackberries and Sony's well-reviewed Reader are just hints of things to come. Thin electronic screens that can roll up (or be folded up) and be stuck in your pocket are in the labs now. When they come along, we'll see true electronic portability, and print will look quaint by comparison.
Gates says this is five years away, and while that may be a tad optimistic, it's not far off. He also has some interesting things to say about the future of advertising (much more targeted, basically). Take it all together and you realize we're still in the early stages of the media revolution that we're all living through. That's probably scary to people who are clinging to old models and feel like things have already changed plenty, thank you. Well, get used to it: There's a lot more yet to come, and very soon. Start thinking about how your company and product can adapt to the new world rather than bemoaning the pace of change and trying to force the old models into the new technology.
Oh, and PS, Gates also said:
I have a lot of friends in the newspaper industry and, of course, this is a tough, wrenching change for them because the number of people who actually buy, subscribe to the newspaper and read it has started an inexorable decline.
He's right about that, too.