Before the internet made it possible for us to watch our favorite TV shows and movies based on where and when we wanted to watch them, there was the dreaded powerful hook of cable companies. Not only did you have to pay for expensive subscriptions you also had to tune in at the right time since channels only broadcasted shows at their own convenience.
It hurt to miss favorite shows because of obligations such as your job and running errands around the house. And when you finally did sit down to watch some good old TV, it was spammed by a countless late night infomercials.
The problem was somehow mitigated with the advent of video recorders which allowed you to capture your favorite shows with the press of a button. But that was a hassle of its own. Think of all the storage space needed for the cassettes or DVDs, the video recorder and the perfect time management skills needed to be able to record those shows. This was about to change soon…
The disruption brought about by the mighty internet began an onslaught of various startups aimed at different facets of the business world. Offering customers alternative ways to get their demands met without compromising on quality and shaving down on costs.
YouTube made the best attempt to slay the vicious beast that the cable company was. Launched in 2005 YouTube came up with the simple slogan of “Broadcast Yourself”. The idea resonated with millions of users worldwide and soon people found themselves watching ‘funny cat’ videos on YouTube. This trend soon followed up with hundreds of users chipping in to make quality content such as podcasts and video game reviews.
YouTube started attracting hundreds of millions of visitors, and envious corporations looked on at YouTube as a dangerous competitor, soon starting a campaign of copyright lawsuits against the content provider. For a couple of years there was an awkward stalemate between YouTube and the money milking media companies; but everyone soon realized that it was better to join YouTube than to fight them.
And now you actually have the likes of Warner Brothers and Universal Studios uploading their content directly on YouTube. We the people changed the landscape of the powerful multimedia world based on our collective voice.
Netflix and others
Their slogan was similar, “Watch anywhere, cancel anytime.” Netflix, a digital media company, experienced a quick growth spurt, owning the entire media ecosystem. Completely changing the way we watch TV and being responsible for a reported 50% drop in US TV viewing, adding to the throes of traditional media companies. The reason? On-demand, cheap subscriptions that viewers could avail anytime anywhere. Their main competition being Hulu, Amazon and soon Facebook’s own take on premium TV.
Their big breakthrough came in 2013 when they debuted the critically acclaimed House of Cards. Netflix today is worth an impressive $13.6 billion.
Uber and others
In 2011, Uber launched their cab hailing app, and without owning a single car or having access to a single driver, managed to connect millions of drivers and passengers together. You no longer had to face the expensive fares offered by normal taxi rides since Uber offered you a much more streamlined service on-demand at sometimes half the rates offered by the taxis.
Drivers could offer their service whenever they felt like it, and despite the cheap fares they were forced to take, ended up making a hefty profit after a hard day’s work. Today despite a myriad of controversial cases against their name, Uber has a net worth of $6.5 billion. Their success has launched a wave of similar services across the world such as Careem and Lyft.
The wave of disruption affected the financial sector too, competing directly against banks, once thought to be an invincible sector in the market that stood against the worst economic hits while other businesses failed. Fintech or financial technology has finally made a significant dent to banks. Brick and mortal banks soon faced foreclosure as customers quickly hopped on board internet and mobile banking. Spending or keeping track of their hard earned cash was just one click away.
Consumers can now stash their money into a myriad of digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Wallet and Microsoft Wallet.
One of the biggest threats facing banks is Paypal, an online banking solution used by more than 190 million people worldwide, recording a colossal 4.9 billion payments made in 2015. Paypal and similar offerings such as Square are now beginning to offer loans to individuals and small businesses, charging a fixed fee.
The most obvious victim of the early internet are newspapers. Why bother spending a couple of bucks gaining access to a piece of paper—which by the way contributes to global warming and deforestation – when you can read up what news you want on the internet.
Newspapers were among the first industries directly affected by the internet, and those publications which were not quick to adopt the internet soon found themselves facing the unforgiving clutches of bankruptcy and eventually foreclosure.
One real example is the Tucson Citizen in Tuscon, Arizona. When they ceased printing in 2009, their daily production was 17,000, slashed down from their usual 60,000 in the 1960s. They attempted to switch their business online at TucsonCitizen.com but the site soon shut down on January 2014.
Those who were late to the party faced (and continue to face) increasing competition from independent blog posts and alternative sources of information. Resulting in many journalists and writers loosing their jobs, there simply wasn’t enough revenue to compensate them for their services.
Change and adapt
The two ways traditional brick and mortar businesses handled such competition was either to combat the young upstarts in court or join forces with them. Today the benefit of hindsight has taught the business world a lesson, you either change or get cruelly swept away under the rug by the burgeoning beast that is the internet.
by Bobby J Davidson
As the President of Percento Technologies, I provide day-to-day leadership to the company’s senior management and I am personally involved in the strategy, business development and sales activities of the company.
The company was founded in 1999 with the purpose of providing a Business Technology | Anytime | Anywhere for organizations in need of Managed IT Services, Professional IT Consulting, and Infrastructure Projects. We have a fantastic suite of boutique-managed Cloud Servers to choose, along with Network Cabling and high end professional website services.
We personalize the IT experience with a team approach, working with clients from diverse sectors of industry, including banking, legal, health-care, energy and corporate business.
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