Fight The Power or Go With the Flow?

Almost a month ago, Marco Arment was writing about piracy of movies and music, but I thought he was really making a much broader point:

We often try to fight problems by yelling at them instead of accepting the reality of what people do, from controversial national legislation to passive-aggressive office signs. Such efforts usually fail, often with a lot of collateral damage, much like Prohibition and the ongoing “war” on “drugs”. And, more recently (and with much less human damage), media piracy.

It is a well-written piece and deserves a full read. His point applies to so many things in life.

Given that, there is a fine line between fighting the status quo and going with the flow. Some battles are worth fighting. For instance, I agree that the fight with Congress over the way campaigns are financed, which in essence leads to favor-politics that distort what needs to be done for the best of society, is worth it. Putting a garbage can by the door in the men’s room, as per Marco’s example? Not worth the fight. Just move the can.

Obviously Hollywood believes fighting piracy is worth the fight. Can they win? Probably not. It’s a gorilla war that Hollywood fights with bazookas and tanks. So the best approach is to change the way it sells products, which the media companies will do eventually when they realize they can’t win the old way.

Many of the issues that surround Hollywood have surrounded software, too. Apps used to cost $20-$50 for mobile platforms. Some of our powerOne products demanded over $100 per copy. Now an expensive app is $5. We could have fought this trend, still charging $10, $20, $40 for our apps. Or we could go with the flow and experiment with free versions, versions at different price points, in app purchase, subscriptions and the like. We chose the latter. It doesn’t make sense to fight this trend. It makes sense to figure out how to use it to my advantage, a lesson Hollywood would heed well.