October 16, 2007
Around the Consortium: Monetizing Third-Party Content, Vanity Zip Codes, and Gender and Fan Studies

I wanted to start out Tuesday morning by linking to a few relevant pieces of work in the blogosphere surrounding C3, from our network of consulting researchers.

First off, David Edery ,who used to work here at C3 and who remains involved in the Consortium, has an interesting discussion up on his Game Tycoon blog. David wrote a note to point out one place he thinks Microsoft is missing the ability to fully tap a niche market interested in their Flight Simulator.

Co-worker Kim Pallister wrote a followup, in friendly manner, calling David's take "ignorant," writing, "Like with other closed vertical markets - not only would MS not have been able to develop this range of product extensions had they chosen to do it themselves, they most likely could not even have conceived of them all."

David wrote in response a piece about Tapping the Aftermarket, giving advice such as co-opting innovations on the original, helping aftermarket suppliers get noticed by advertising their products, and actually monetizing third-party content directly through one's platform. He concludes, "The difference between my position and Kim's is actually quite subtle. Kim is (in my opinion) simply too conservative -- he's afraid to fully capitalize on aftermarkets because, done clumsily, it could cause a 3rd party rebellion. Yes, that risk is definitely there, but I'm not content to ignore an opportunity just because, if handled incorrectly, it could backfire. That's a recipe for obsolescence." The two provide their closing statements here and here.

Meanwhile, C3 Alum Ilya Vedrashko, who runs the Advertising Lab blog, has a note up about vanity zip codes. It seems the Postal Service has officially awarded Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City its own "Zip+4," which is in letters instead of numbers. The address will be "10022-SHOE." Ilya quotes Robert R. Schrum in The Philadelphia Inquirer as saying, "The Postal Service maintains that these last four letters are just a fun, creative marketing strategy and that they have nothing to do with processing or delivery. The agency also claims that there are no plans to allow others to receive vanity zip codes at present. But others have inquired." The piece points out that this is indeed an interesting precedent and questions remain as to what this means for many other corporations who would surely love to have a gimmicked "Zip+4" of their own. Maybe ubiquity really is the new exclusivity.

Finally, the conversation continues over at the blog of our director, Henry Jenkins, with the Gender and Fan Studies series. The latest round is from Lori Hitchcock Morimoto and David Surman, available here and here. Lori, who is a doctoral candidate at Indiana University studying Japanese female fans of Hong Kong cinema in the 1980s and 1990s, and David, who is a senior lecturer of computer games design at the University of Wales, Newport, discuss the "messiness" of transnational fan culture, performance of national identity, mastery and expertise, and "soft power and shallow consumption." This series is moving toward its finale, and I hope some of the C3 readers will go back through the archives and look at the meaningful bits of conversation that have flowed out of this discussion over the past several months, if you haven't already.