Your contributor, along with many others, came up with the concepts of Amazon Marketplace, Wikipedia, and the iPhone, years before they became reality. His problem was that the technology was not in place when he did.
Business is less about having original ideas than it is about getting the timing right. There is nothing brilliant in itself about buying a share but buying it at precisely the right moment can make a fortune – and buying the same share for the same price an hour earlier or later can lose one.
Rupert Murdoch’s launch of The Sun on Sunday is a masterclass in timing. There was informed speculation that he would do such a thing within hours of his dramatic closure of his previous London Sunday tabloid, the News of the World, in response to the phone hacking scandal last July. Yet he did nothing. He knew that public outrage was genuine. A launch then would have been seen as cynical and arrogant. It would have flopped.
Since then, however, there has been a slight softening of the public mood. The sight of the 80-year old Mr Murdoch being attacked by a protestor in the British Parliament actually won him some sympathy – and positive admiration for his wife Wendi for the way she rushed to his defence.
The government’s decision to set up an inquiry into regulation of the press has prompted journalists, many of whom are virulently anti-Murdoch, to close ranks against the prospect of state control of a free press. Many were also offended at the heavy-handed way the police arrested some of Mr Murdoch’s employees. Irrespective of whether the arrests were merited, it seems that the Metropolitan Police cannot do anything these days without imitating the overkill they see on American cop shows. Journalists of all opinions could imagine men in helmets and flak-jackets stamping into the bedrooms of their own children.
Meanwhile, the police have admitted that the allegation that, more than any other, prompted the inquiry seems to be a fabrication. It was the now discredited claim that Mr Murdoch’s people had deleted the voicemails of a young murder victim that really stirred up popular anger. No one really cares about self-publicising “celebrities” whining about having their telephones tapped.
So the launch of the Sun on Sunday has been well-timed in the tactical sense – but is the whole concept well-timed at the strategic level? Many in Mr Murdoch’s own organisation, looking at the profits of Fox television franchises such as The Simpsons, see the old man’s obsession with print journalism as a thing of the past. It has certainly been a major distraction over the last year. The digital revolution has not yet killed newspapers outright, but, although there is still profit to be had from paper, the whole stressful experience may convince the next generation that there are better ways of spending their time.