Times Are Changing…

1 Jun

Sir Howard Stringer, CEO of consumer electronics giant Sony, provides the quote of the day: "People want the status quo to continue long after the quo has no status," he declared.

Photo of Sir Howard Stringer courtesy of Dan Farber's Flickr set.

In context, he was talking about trying to rigidly hold on to outmoded business models when technology has effectively bypassed them, and he specifically meant the music industry — where Sony through its Joint Venture with Germany's Bertelsmann is a huge global player. But overall it was effectively the theme for today's second day at the D Conference.

Not one of the industry leaders at this conference expresses confidence in the long-term certainty of their current business model. In session after session, and in the conference hallways, folks such as Disney's Bob Iger, Yahoo!'s Terry Semel, Comcast's Steve Burke, and EarthLink's founder and board member (and Helio CEO) Sky Dayton (on a panel with SF Mayor Gavin Newsom), talked about how new models are changing the way consumers and executives are thinking about their products and business models. Doing things differently, and executing faster, is their focus.

It's a thought-provoking moment, which led my colleague Mike Lunsford and I to talk to many of our partners and colleagues here about how we are looking to encourage integration and usefulness across all our Earthlink products. In fact, in response to a question I asked, both Discovery Communications CEO Judith McHale and Martha Stewart Living CEO Susan Lyne said they are organizing their content-centric businesses in wholly new ways to create new sorts of programming for the internet.

We'll see, of course, how all that turns out.

In the meantime, easily the funniest moment of the day was when Martha Stewart (yes, that Martha Stewart) stood up at the Q&A microphone holding a white shopping bag in which she carries dozens of electrical power chargers and peripherals for her various mobile devices.

Photo of Martha Stewart courtesy of Dan Farber's Flickr set.

She asked Sir Howard of Sony to simplify her life, and provide the same plug so she can only carry around one. He demurred, confessing that Sony makes a ton of money – and margin – on ensuring we need separate power supplies and chargers for all those devices.

But, complained Martha, "we need one complete set for each of our houses!"

To which Sir Howard replied that most of us have fewer houses than Martha Stewart.

Other sources reporting from D:

(also published at earthling)


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