"Content is king" is one of those axioms of business that seems eternal. So logical and obvious. Of course, it is more of a value differentiator to produce movies (vs. being the distributor). Clearly it is more profitable to make products rather than selling or distributing them.
Not any more.
First, the examples: Uber, AirBNB, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in and Amazon (save a couple of exceptions) are all examples of new-era stars that create little to no products or content. How did an axiom of business get turned upside down? Two reasons. First, for decades we focused on product and content "innovation;" this drove both competition and commoditization. Trying to find meaningful differences between hotels, airlines, toilet paper, or even local news is hard. Most of us probably start with price. With their focus mostly on product, most of these same companies did not worry about distribution; that was "low value" so it was outsourced or given little attention. The second major change was technology, specifically the "cloud-mobile-social" revolution; this served as the second enabler for the disruption.
With existing leaders focused in other areas new entrants have entered the market with little direct competition and have had enormous impact. The delivery disruptor list is long: Apple iTunes and Pandora for music, AirBnB for lodging, Uber for taxis, etc. Even where products are involved, delivery has become a key differentiator. For instance, SaaS delivery with companies like Salesforce.
In an era where content and even most products are much closer to commodities, delivery becomes the new area for innovation. If I want to buy toilet paper there are literally hundreds of viable choices. If I don't care about brand there are thousands of options. Even for a specific thing, like a movie, I have many options in terms of consumption. I no longer even think about the product or thing I need that much. My value determination is mostly around how to obtain the product.
Here is a simple example, I need toilet paper. I have planned enough ahead so its not a dire emergency, therefore, I have many options. I could wait until Saturday and, along with a million other people, make the trek to Costco. I would battle traffic getting there, seethe that the parking lot looks like a scene from Mad Max, deal with bumper-to-bumper shopping cart mayhem and spend 30 minutes in the checkout line only to pack up my own cart.
Or..... from my comfy chair at home reading a book and having a scotch I can tell my Amazon Echo to "buy toilet paper" and it's done. I don't care if it costs a bit more (it probably doesn't if you include all the cost factors like time, travel costs, etc). This decision is a no-brainer. Same product, two completely different experiences.
As I look at the market today, there are still so many opportunities for "delivery disruption." Just look for things where the core offering (product, content, service) is pretty much a commodity (like a taxi ride) and the delivery model is poor and outdated (like waiting in a line). While the opportunity pendulum has clearly swung toward delivery model innovation note that, at some point, it is likely to again be focused on content and products. Innovation tends to come from individuals who imagine the world differently. The common element becomes unpredictability.