February 17, 2012
Advantage Bloomberg? Part 4: BLaw will be competitive with WEXIS as a primary provider in a solutions-driven market before the end of this decade
Does anyone really believe Bloomberg isn't hell bent on acquiring primary provider status in this decade? My hunch is that the Company has a couple of years before WEXIS integration of Solutions (including Search as a Solution) appears in the market by way of the Dashboard model and about five years after that for the Dashboard to be widely accepted as an expected user experience, at least in the private sector. Let's peg the user acceptance milestone as arriving around 2020.
By that time there will probably be only three major professional legal services vendors -- BLaw, Lexis L & P and TR Legal. I serious doubt Wolters Kluwer's US Legal has a snowball's chance in hell of surviving the flames of this three-way competition. It will be sold by then, if not sooner. But to whom?
- Unlike BNA, will WK just not give a damn about the commondization of its content by selling to TR Legal if TR Legal makes the highest bid?
- Will Lexis L & P fill in its Tax & Accounting gap by buying WK's high quality editorial content to be more competitive with BLaw online and to enhance its competitiveness by filling in some speciality area gaps by way of CCH tax and accounting and WK's "Aspen" law and business practitioner treatise catalogs to bring to market high analytical, practitioner-focused specialist content in enhanced eBooks vis a vis TR Legal's enhanced eBooks (now that TR Legal has realized those smaller treatises it acquired many years ago but neglected actually have some value)?
- BLaw doesn't really need WK US Law & Business but if the Company wants to dominate the market by reducing the competitiveness of TR Legal and Lexis L & P for speciality practice area content, then you bet BLaw may be a very interested buyer of WK US Legal for its online sources, p- and e-titles, continuing eduation programs and, more generally, its user population and human capital (meaning in-house editors and only meaning in-house editors).
Actually, I'm hoping Fastcase will buy WK US Legal if (when) it comes up the auction. Let's start that unsubstantiated rumor [wink]. Four-way competition is better than three-way competition over the long haul.
From a shorter term perspective, BLaw is not a player in the nascent enhanced Law eBook market yet. That will change. No doubt BLaw will be enhancing BNA treatises, portfolios, etc., into eBooks with link-thru to BLaw online. BLaw may very well be the first enhanced Law eBook publisher to provide multi-media content from its growing content inventory -- not just video from Bloomberg financial and law news but also from its topical webinar inventory which can be dovetailed into eBook formats for existing and new titles. The Bloomberg BNA brand has been aggressively rolling out more timely topical webinars featuring experts in the field. This sort of content certainly can be incorporated into eBooks in addition to BLaw online.
BLaw will be competitive as a primary provider in a solutions-driven market. WEXIS better take notice in now terms of all of its eContent-related offerings - databased and eBooks. Responding to the Google generation, for example, by way of "next-gen" federated Search coupled with filtering is not going to be good enough. The targeted user population is also the YouTube generation. Here, WEXIS is behind the curve. BLaw is not. [JH]