Roland Dürre
Tuesday February 5th, 2019

The Future and Gambling.

Is there anyone who does not like bets? Especially if you are really an expert? As most German men are when it comes to soccer?

For me, the future has always held a special fascination. One of my early dream jobs, along with film producer, was futurologist. Later, I became a programmer and IT entrepreneur. My specialty was digitalization – which means I tried to predict its future. Mostly, my predictions were wrong, because the technological development was faster than I had expected. The only exception were the flat-screens. I was wrong about them, too. It took a lot longer than I had predicted for the flat-screen to replace the CRT monitor.

Occasionally I also tried to predict the future outside the field of IT. There is a nice story about this. It was a bet where I won a box of champagne – which I never received. Regardless of the fact that they say betting debts are honorary debts.

Here is the story.

This is the year 1993. The Focus just appeared for the first time. It is said to be an alternative for Spiegel readers, the German news magazine created and sold by Hubert Burda Media.

April 1961 – when the news magazine actually still was a news magazine.

One of my highly appreciated employees – let us call him A. – bought an early edition of the news magazine FOCUS and read it on his way home from a customer. He showed me the magazine because he found it an outrage. He was quite appalled by the superficiality and partiality of the magazine.

A. believed that the project FOCUS will have to fail and that the magazine would quickly disappear from the market.

Spontaneously, I tended towards agreeing with A. To me, the sorry effort also looked atrocious. I agreed with A: The FOCUS is too colourful, to garish and too simple. It is superficial and primitive.

But then – is that not what our society has come to? And the future? Consequently, I contradicted A. We had a dispute and eventually we made a bet. The bet was formulated and the loser has to pay a box of champagne.


A. and Roland betting. Roland assumes that the FOCUS will be a success and that the magazine will still exist ten years from now. Andreas bets that the FOCUS will have disappeared before ten years are over.
The loser has to give the winner a box of champagne.


I make an entry in my diary and wait. Ten years later (2003), I stand as the winner. However, I do not get the champagne. A. ignores my demand.


Today (2019), after more than 25 years, they still both exist: the Spiegel and the FOCUS. Here are the current edition sales numbers (the Spiegel is still the winner).

Spiegel:
The number of sold copies is 712,268, which is a minus of 32.6 per cent since 1998. 
Focus:
The number of sold copies is 413,276, which is a minus of 47.2 per cent since 1998.


I do not know which of the two is the winner in online readers. It is no surprise that the hard paper copies get fewer. It seems that this is true for almost all newspapers and magazines (with the exception of very few, such as the brand eins). The number of copies printed (sold copies) and the advertisements therein (in T€) is on the decline.

As I see it, the Spiegel has moved towards the FOCUS. That is not an encouraging conclusion with respect to the quality of journalism in the one-time news magazine. The same is true for the fact that the best stories are those that have been made up.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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