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Three questions

Phil Leigh: Vice president and digital-media analyst, Raymond James & Associates, St. Petersburg.

By LOUIS HAU, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 31, 2003

Q. You're one of a small number of Wall Street analysts out there with an exclusive focus on digital media. With everybody talking about downloadable music and video applications such as TiVo, why aren't more people covering this industry?

It's because the impact is just beginning to be felt. Generally, an industry doesn't get covered until it gets well defined. You can find analysts covering the auto industry, the airline industry, the utilities industry -- they're well-defined, mature industries. My objective is to focus on something before it becomes obvious. Time will tell if I'm right.

* * *

Q. After the tech bubble burst a couple of years ago, did it become more difficult for tech analysts to get the attention and respect of investors?

Yes, there is a higher level of skepticism of anything new in technology. But I would point out that in 1929, two companies . . . went public to manufacture televisions. Both of them were basically on the right track, developing technologies that would be used later. But because of economic disruption, the pace of innovation slowed. If the economy had continued to be strong, both of those companies would have been in very strong positions. The technological feasibility of digital media is already in place and ready to go. There's no reason other than legal obstacles that we don't have a legitimate version of Napster right now. The chances of this trend being reversed are about as good as a Cherokee Indian being elected pope.

* * *

Q. Which digital media products do you use yourself?

The Apple iPod is my favorite gadget. I've got it with me right now on a trip to San Francisco -- I've got everything from Beethoven to Elton John. I'm also making home movies and burning them to CD. I've got three siblings and I can send each of them a copy. I have a TiVo as well. I'm fairly discriminating but I'm always looking for whatever's new.

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