Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Return of the King: Google buys youtube

In case anyone out there was wondering, the reason for the previous prolonged absence is one simply of technology. In short, my home computer had a little motherboard issue, and while I wait for the 4th attempt at a replacement taking over a month (let’s just say I’m glad I’m a fedora-sporting Bluetooth-wearing Amex-using douche, otherwise I’d have been f-ed over by some unscrupulous internet sellers passing off OEM parts as new), I decided to pick up a notebook computer to use. No, I’m not that kind of money stuffed jerk who can just “do that”, but rather I am preparing on finishing up the graduate degree in a far away place and will need something more portable in the near future. Besides, with B&H right here, how can you not?

Some updated information:
-If anyone has tried to e-mail me via the e-mail listed on this site, chances are I haven’t seen it because by simply putting that e-mail address out there, it’s getting spammed like crazy. Don’t call me I’ll call you.
-I will now be resuming regular postings.
-I will be at Otakon.
-I got Invited to Sitacon, but am not sure if I can make it.
-No computer means no i-pod updates so I haven’t listened to any other podcasts since about early May.

That’s all for the basic info. …well here are some things you maybe didn’t know:
-I’ve eaten kaiten sushi at 2 different places in the past 2 days.
-My next door neighbor is a senior exec at Kodansha.
-I can’t drink diet soda because of an allergy.
-Harmony Gold still hasn’t sent me a copy of the DVD where I interview Tommy Yune.
-I think the Litepanels Micro is the best on-cam light ever.
-We interviewed TM Revolution for あ!PoN, but... there’s an issue about that which is gonna hold that up.
-I got all teary-eyed at the end of Maison Ikkoku.
-I recently had some nice conversations with actress Kato Ai and her boyfriend the F1 Driver. They declined appearing on あ!PoN.

Now to begin the speculation into anime business, or; Why we’ll win in the end, but that’s a long way off.

Recently, the largest juggernauts of the media and software business world have been rocked back and forth with some major news about this that or the other seriously negative economic development.

Case in point Google’s recent admission that Youtube was basically the largest “impulse buy” in the history of money. Lots of people realized that their plan looked suspiciously like some underpants gnomes we all know;

Step 1: Buy You Tube
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit!

At one point or another, every business that has failed has someone within the power structure pop their head up and say “Hey, what’s step 2?” It is usually at such a point where the stockholders make an assessment and then pull the plug on an otherwise unprofitable quagmire. It remains to be seen whether Google will take that oft trodden path or be second only to the Bush administration in moving forward into a world of epic fail with no discernible “step 2.”

Now those in the business world were not surprised at this development, but what was felt was a profound sense of disappointment. Google had defied the odds up to this point, and now it’s all going to come crashing down as something unsustainable in some horrible Enron-esque scenario which involves global warming and killer butterflies.

What does this have to do with anime? Well if you look at what happened to Geneon, you’re looking at a picture perfect example of the underpants gnomes business plan at work. Although what’s most tragic is that “step 2” in this case was known on the Japanese end, but what they didn’t know was that it wouldn’t work:

Step 1: Buy your way into the U.S. home media market.
Step 2: It will be Just like the Japanese home media market in security, but a massive bonanza because Americans buy everything.
Step 3: Profit!

Now look closely at Step 1-2. Notice the term “home media market” and not “anime market.” This is important, since the “anime market” encompasses everything from animation production to merchandise licensing. But that’s not where Geneon put its chips down. They put them solely down on home media, which was the worst possible place to put them.

The rest of this is wrote. Dominoes fall, and soon the only players left in the anime on dvd game will be those who can treat it as a loss leader, such as Bandai, 4Kids, Funimation, Manga, and who knows maybe a broadcaster will get into the mix. Time and time again the industry will blame fansubbers, and time and time again the industry will be right. But I’ve mentioned that all before.

So now anime is in a state where it can no longer count on the vast American market, full of people who love anime, to even support basic licenses that they could once count on for revenue.

What will they do? They’ll adapt of course. Anime is once again leading the way in terms of media development. We’ll see a long dry spell for sure, helped by general economic downturns in both regions at the same time (not something that has ever really happened before), but entertainment and the people’s need for it will always be there. As long as that need is there, someone will be there to fill it, and someone will make a buck off of that… which is good because this anime stuff is pretty expensive to make.

NEXT TIME: I'll try to sound like less of a broken record.