Once again, let me say right off the top: I'm not bashing content.
Heck, I've devoted the last 25 years of my life to it — back when it was just called "writing" and "programming," and stuff like that.
Content is still key.
But too many media companies are failing to make the most of their content, ironically because they've put it on a thrown and value it too highly, as I wrote below. And at the same time, they continue to undervalue the importance of utilities. The latter is now the most important factor for the success of media properties on the web: features and functionalities that get people to your content, get your content out to people, and let people do things with it.
Justin Kim, a terrific, on-the-edge indie marketer has an interesting take on this. Here's some of it:
I think the never-ending quest for the killer app has resulted in the development of a ton of cool little tools. Like mitochondria, maybe one day they can come together with other apps to form an evolved interface.
...it's all about creating the best platform for serving content — be it RSS, aggregation, peer-to-peer, voting, whichever's clever. And easiest to get your quick fix. Different methods work better for different kinds of content.
All things considered, ease of use and providing the quickest access to the desired content is a recipe for a platform with stickiness. It's not just the content that gets people to come back. Just as most successful shows eventually become syndicated, the same content is almost always available elsewhere. Or at least a knockoff version. The winning platform is the one that works the best for the user.
On my personal scale: Usability > Content > Interactivity > Popularity.
Justin's scale is an interesting one. Especially when you try to figure out why so many people — especially in the younger, instant gratification generations — watch one piece of content over another, simply because it's easier to get to.
More on the above, and other thoughts from JK at www.blogoriety.com