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Which businesses will the Internet kill next?

2011 October 13
by Nat

Blockbuster, Borders, Circuit City, the Tribune, Musicland – all killed by the Internet.  Will Barnes & Noble, YellowPages, Comcast, and radio stations be next?

The Internet offers global reach and low-cost distribution.  It is a winner-take-all environment without the traditional barriers to entry.

Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Verizon are becoming the dominant players in the Internet age, and destroying many traditional businesses along the way.

What other long-established companies will next fall victim to competition from the Internet?

It isn’t a good time to be a bookseller selling books in big, expensive retail spaces, especially not against Amazon and the rise of the Kindle and downloadable books.  Borders failed.  Barnes & Noble is hanging tough, due in part to the success of their color e-reader, the Nook.  But Amazon’s new Kindle Fire threatens to make the Nook obsolete.  What will keep Barnes & Noble from the downward spiral now?

Comcast/Xfinity is a dominant company with steadily growing revenues.  But will they be able to keep their price structure intact in the face of Verizon’s Fios service, and more television shows being delivered and viewed through the Internet?  Will the day come that HBO doesn’t need Comcast to deliver its shows, since enough people will have fast Internet connections and Internet-enabled TVs to be able to watch high quality TV over their Internet connections, obsoleting Comcast cable.  Comcast’s huge investment in infrastructure leaves it with a $40 billion pile of debt.  It can’t afford to lose customers or reduce its pricing.

We’ve heard for a while that the YellowPages is on its way out, as people no longer use the books to locate businesses.  What about Radio?  Will advertisers continue to pay for radio spots if radio’s listeners have migrated to Pandora, Spotify or are to listening to iTunes through the Bluetooth enables speakers in their cars?

Sprint and BlackBerry are vulnerable to the rise of smartphones and next generation wireless.  Sprint, with its smaller customer base, may have a hard time keeping up with the nationwide rollout of new infrastructure that Verizon and AT&T can better afford.  BlackBerry (RIM) has strong cash-flow from business users, but those business users are migrating over to iPhone and Droid phones as these are adding the features and security that business users need.

Could we one day read about the bankruptcy of one of these formidable businesses?

What other businesses do you think are vulnerable to the rise of the Internet?


14 Responses leave one →
  1. dcmike77 permalink
    October 13, 2011

    Easy: Videogame retailers due to digital game downloads

    Gamestop, Gamefly, EBX, local game retailers – all doomed

  2. John permalink
    October 13, 2011

    The cable companies in this country are highly leveraged. Talk about having a clear and present danger for our country when our internet speeds are far slower than most other countries around the world that built the pipes themselves(South Korea is one that comes to mind). It absolutely is an economic hindrance for us having slow speeds and continuous price increases. At some point when they lose their pricing power they will implode with all that debt.

    • Nat permalink*
      October 14, 2011

      In the news today, Netflix spending a billion dollars to stream CW shows. Netflix is using the Internet to deliver tv shows, bypassing the need to invest in an expensive nationwide cable system rollout.

    • Nat permalink*
      November 5, 2011

      Another update.

      Louis C. K. bypassing cable to broadcast his live show as a pay-per-view directly on the Internet.

      Another sign of things to come?

  3. October 13, 2011

    Radio. Nat, I’ve had recent meetings with a great web developer that runs and built some great websites supporting local radio stations in a smaller market, and he is trying to align himself with CitiesPlanet, as he sees a very limited future in radio and revenue tied to traditional radio. Unless your vehicle is over 3 years old, you have a multi disc CD player, XM Sirius, and an iPod hookup that gives you complete control. I cannot imagine building a business around any of the traditional media sources such as print or radio these days…we are very happy where we are. At the Expo in Chicago, Ron Jackson said something so simple and obvious, but when I heard then sentence, it was so powerful! He said, “Where else but the internet can you have the ability to publish print, audio, and video….with immediate distribution to the world”???….all of which is trackable (sorry if I’m not quoting Ron exactly….but you get the point)…..Radio is audio only, and their tracking measurements and audience share reports have recently become suspect and unreliable I have heard….

    • Nat permalink*
      October 14, 2011

      Thanks for the comment, Fred. As you point out, it may be hard for Radio to retain and attract the best people if they see better opportunities elsewhere.

  4. October 13, 2011

    Possibly Hustler, Vivid, Digital Playground, Adam & Eve, et al. Porn seems to be dying as a viable business, due to piracy and tube sites. Why shoot new content when the day after release it will be stolen/uploaded for free downloading globally by the masses. If American porn goes under, we might be inundated by releases from Russia and Eastern Europe, much of which might show harsch treatment of women as what 18-50 year old viewers looking for “new/you/fresh faces/adult” women might think is normal “lovemaking”, not harsch sex:-(. Yikes!

  5. October 14, 2011

    All brick and mortar product / fashion retailers are under threat.
    Online shopping is the winner…

    • Nat permalink*
      October 14, 2011

      Also in the news today, Gap closing a fifth of its stores due in part from competition from online shopping.

      • October 14, 2011

        Also, my popular G-Star Raw has closed stores in Paddington Sydney.

  6. October 14, 2011

    Hi Nat,

    The oldies should renovate, restructure, resize, rethink and morph their business models to the new trends to survive and flourish.

    Yellowpages owners in few countries have adjusted their target audience as on-the-go crowd. their offerings are to mobile, tablets and location based deals.

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