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American Idol

by Hu Yoshida on Jun 2, 2006

While I was out of the country for the past two weeks a revolutionary phenomenon occurred on US television. It was the finale of the American Idol TV program. For those who have not heard about this program, it is the most popular reality show in the US. Auditions are held through out the country for new young singers, and the final 12 appear on the American Idol program. After each week’s performance, viewers vote by phone and IM and the lowest vote getter is eliminated. The last one standing wins the title of the “American Idol”. This program has been running for the past 5 years to larger and larger audiences. While I have not been a particular fan of this program, I could not resist the attraction of this year’s finale. Fortunately my daughter TIVO’d it so I was able to see this phenomenon.

This year the two finalists received over 60 million votes in the finale. It is said there were more votes for the American Idol than there were votes in the last presidential election. This program became popular through the direct involvement of the viewers. It also had a halo effect on established music stars, who were involved as quest artists. They saw increased sales of their CDs, after an appearance on what is basically an amateur show. By the last show in which the winner was announced, big name artists like Prince were vying to be on same stage as these amateurs. Advertising slots were commanding more money than similar slots on the Super Bowl show. The winner was surprising. It was a grey haired man, by the name of Taylor Hicks from Birmingham Alabama,  who, some people would say, can’t dance.

The “Music Industry” would have never have promoted this type of singer to national prominence. Without the American Idol, he might still be singing at local Bars and Weddings. This result shows the power of direct input from the consumer. No middle man involved. Any body, young or old, who had a cell phone, was able to cast a vote. That vote produced these surprising results. The people were not put off by the white hair, they saw the talent. The songs these young people chose to sing, saw increased downloads on the Internet. The artists like Barry Manilow who took the time to coach and support these young people saw increasing sales of their CDs. This has revolutionized the music industry and turned it upside down..

There is the new power base emerging. Companies that enable consumers to have a direct input or choice will drive the market place. Google, Yahoo, MySpace, ebay, Typepad, and yes, the American Idol, are examples of the new power base.

It is already having an impact on storage vendors. First of all these companies consume a lot of storage. But more importantly, they enable direct access to information and direct input of consumer preferences. Storage consumers are beginning to blog about their experiences with storage products. That means storage vendors get direct input on the use and requirements of their products. The transparency of the internet requires vendors to be responsive to problems that are reported. It also means that successes with storage products also get reported and disseminated, and, much like the American Idol, consumers can ignore the marketing hype and pick the real talent.

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Comments (3 )

Jeremiah Owyang on 04 Jun 2006 at 7:50 am

Much Agreed Hu,

The biggest changes in this “Social Media” movement is that customers, citizens, and anyone with access to modern communication can share their voice and opinion –and it’s easily heard and found using tools like Google.

The key benefit is for Customers and Companies to align and collaborate in near real time –as the lines of communication are now open. (Thanks primarily to your efforts here as an open communicator on behalf of HDS)

Vijay on 24 Jun 2006 at 2:34 am

Direct input from customer is definitely welcome but one needs to ensure that there is no skewed representation of customers.

In a similar televised show in India, viewers from one part of the country were enthusiastic voters while viewers from other parts just watched the program. In such cases, the input is skewed in favour of the people from a particular section of society.

Blog enabled businesses may form just a part of the consumer segment for any product. The rest may be just too busy to blog :)

Jeremiah Owyang on 25 Jun 2006 at 9:24 am


Great comment, I’ve given this a lot of thought as well. I would agree with you assessment that currently only a minority of individuals are blogging.

I’m the guy at HDS that’s carefully watching the conversation in the Storage Industry –your comments and other customer opinions are very important to us.

According go the Blog Business Summit My stats (I study this carefully) that approximately 11% of internet users are blogging however the adoption rate is increasing by doubling every 6 months (Dave Siffry from Technorati).

Other stats show that nearly 40% or more of internet users are participating by leaving comments, or forums, or rating products –the web is becoming more two way and conversational.

If this trend continues, more and more individuals will be participating online (Don’t forget that many youth under 25 are blogging or in social sites and will be entering the workforce soon)

Just as you suggest that only a few people in a specific region are interested in voting for a particular topic you’re spot on –different people have different interests –this applies to the two-way web as well. I’ve observed that folks with very distinct interests start to congregate and meet online. The “one size fits all” approach to business is slowly begging to erode to smaller more detailed needs (this is called the Long Tail theory).

Lastly, my studies indicuate that onl 15% of any community may actually participate (5% of them are active and vocal individuals) they actually persuade the other 85% that is watching, listening, and making decisions. This shows exactly how important each blogger and blog post about their experience with storage products are critical.

In summary, every single blogger is important, every single opinion is important, and we’re doing our best to listen and to respond. Hu is a great example of one of our leaders reaching out to connect –despite his incredibly busy schedule.

Jeremiah Owyang, “Web Geek” Web Marketing, HDS

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