The end of the line…

It’s hardly earth shattering news, but a recent piece of research in New Zealand has indicated that as Generation Y are growing up and becoming home owners for the first time, they’re simply not installing home phones. No landlines at home. It’s obvious really, and I can’t imagine that anyone other than the landline phone providers are surprised.

The problem we have right now is that disruptive innovation is now the norm, and no longer the exception. This means that the most likely “next big thing” in your industry is actually not going to come from your industry at all. It might feel obvious to us looking backwards, but all of the following appeared to be surprises to the industries they disrupted:

  • Cheap watches surprised the Swiss watchmakers;
  • Web-based search engines completely killed Yellow Pages and printed directories;
  • eBooks;
  • Smartphones killed Nokia (see these ludicrous predictions from industry leaders about the iPhone in 2007);
  • Driverless cars – Google is the first to market with this, not Ford, BMW or Toyota;
  • Video games were not picked up by the board game manufacturers (see here for insights on one company, Lego, that seems to be keeping up);
  • iTunes is disrupting the music industry, mainly by selling music by tracks rather than by albums.  The industry still hasn’t really understood this shift;
  • 3d printing is about to disrupt factories, when “made in China” becomes “made in my kitchen”;
  • the apps industry is disrupting almost every other industry, especially the way we consume news and information.

We know all of these things were surprises because these innovations were introduced by companies completely outside the established industry at the time.

So, a simple question, and I’d love your thoughts and comments on this: what other industries, products or services are heading towards “the end of the line” in the next few years? They might limp on, supported by older die-hards, but new generational or geographical marketplaces will be inaccesible? Let me know…

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