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By Thomas Baekdal - July 2011

The shift in 2012

2012 is just around the corner, and as foretold it is the year that the world will apparently end. I'm not a religious crackpot - I do not believe that the world is really going end. But I do believe that "the world as we know it" is going to end - and 2012 is the pivotal point of when that is going to happen.

You see there is something spooky going on. Every single day we see all these trends about media usage, consumer behavior, how people interact with each other, how we connect, etc. On top that we have all the trends focusing what we use, and how we use them. E.g. the growth of the smartphones and tablets.

The strange thing is that they seem to converge on one point ...which is the year of 2012.

If we look back to 2001, the world pretty much looked like the graph below. The traditional media industries were absolutely dominating our world. People primarily bought physical CDs. They mostly rented movies at physical stores. They only bought printed books. And, newspapers and magazines were dominantly consumed in the form of print.

The scales were heavily in favor of traditional media.

But over the past 10 years, we have seen a gradual shift towards a new world. It started with things becoming ever more digital. Then came social media that brought with it a new culture of being connected. And ever so slowly the scales started to shift.

We are now very close to the point where the scales are about to tip in favor of digital. It has already happened for some demographics. With newspapers, the younger demographics (18-49 years old) actually changed back 2005-2006. But the main demographic for newspapers, the 50-65 year olds, are at the very tipping point.

2012 is a pivotal moment

The amazing thing about this is that the trends seem to converge around the year of 2012. That is the year where, in average, many trends shifts from the old to the new.

We are moving from a disconnected world, based on one-way physical distribution channels. To a new world where people are socially connected, centered around a digital lifestyle.

Remember how we used to say "in the real world"? In 2012, the real world is one where we are always connected. One in which, if you go to a concert, you will share it with all your friends - while you are there. One in which you can always check the weather. And you do not have to wait for the evening news to hear about what is happening in the world.

2012 is going to be the year in which the world shifts. It is the pivotal year. It is the year where the world as we know it is going to end.

Unlike the religious crackpots, who believe the world is going to end in some kind of apocalyptic event, this shift is going to happen gradually. Print newspapers are not going to go up in flames on January 1st, 2012. It is slow shift that will increase in importance. And in 2015, the digital world will have the same power as the traditional world had in 2001.

But what is important here is not the shift itself, but where you should focus your energy. In 2012, your primary focus has to be to serve people in a digitally connected social world.

There is, however, another very important trend here - besides the shift itself. It is the speed of the shift. It took 10 years, from 2001 to 2011, to balance the two worlds. But it is only going to take 3 years for digital to dominate the market - from 2012-2015.

I know what you are thinking. Three years? Come on! It is not going to happen that fast.

But here is something to think about. Amazon announced in early 2011 that Kindle ebooks were now outselling both paperback and hardcover books combined. It is phenomenal shift in format, and it happened in just 4 years.

The shift itself is accelerating at exponential speeds!

It is not just about media. It is really about how we as human beings interact, connect, discuss, consume, and enjoy the world around us. All that is changing.

The old world is actually going to end in 2012. That is the year our kids will look back at and say "you know, that was when it all changed. That was it."

You now have one year left to ascend to the new world.


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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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