Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer sat down for lunch with editors and reporters at the Washington Post and told them print will be dead in ten years:
There will be no media consumption left in ten years that is not delivered over an IP network. There will be no newspapers, no magazines that are delivered in paper form. Everything gets delivered in an electronic form.
I just hope the Post’s Website will still be around because it is a great distribution partner for TechCrunch.
But seriously, we’ve heard these predictions before. And it is easy to make them again with the print media industry suffering a major contraction as advertising dollars flee elsewhere. Just earlier this week, I was on a media panel at NYU where Vanity Fair media columnist and Newser founder Michael Wolff told Newsweek editor Johnnie Roberts: “If Newsweek is around in five years, I’ll buy you dinner.”
It’s a good line, and in general Wolff was pretty much the only person I agreed with on the panel. Still, I am not so sure print is ever going away. Paper is a more enduring technology than Ballmer or Wolff would have you believe. What is endangered is the current set of business models that produce print media. If the those businesses go away, obviously so do their products. But that presumes that new print businesses won’t emerge to take their place. Maybe they won’t be as profitable and maybe they won’t have as broad a reach, but as long as there is demand for books, newspapers, or magazines somebody will figure out a way to fill it.
(You can watch more videos from Ballmer’s lunch here)