Web-based technologies have been advancing at a fast pace. Several latest disruptive technologies in different industries exist because the internet made them possible. These five industries are on a course toward full disruption. They will affect the way you live. You can thank the seismic change in the internet and mobile technologies.
1. Cable TV
For decades, cable companies have dominated television entertainment. People could purchase high-speed internet and start streaming video entertainment through another “pipe” into their homes, thus cable providers needed a new game. Cable companies integrated TV and internet services. This kept most cable TV customers happy. Who wants to switch providers when one supplier can offer both TV and high-speed internet?
With the introduction of high-speed cable internet came an explosion of online services enabling high-quality entertainment streaming. Netflix, Hulu, and even YouTube TV have evolved to the point that more people are ditching their cable and internet packages. Why pay for cable when you can watch it online?
Unfortunately, it is taking a long time for the technology to catch up with demand. Joel recently described the many limitations of streaming services that keep many customers tied to their cable TV:
- Slow internet speeds and data caps
- Poor coverage of live events
- Too many streaming package options
- Rising prices of those streaming services
- Geographical restrictions on content for many countries
As streaming services overcome these technical limitations, cable companies then turned to the government to put a stop to the creeping competition.
As Ben explained in his overview of net neutrality, cable companies went after the laws that prevented them from slowing down traffic from competitor entertainment services like Netflix or Hulu.
The FCC finally abolished nett neutrality rules in 2017 after strong lobbying from the cable television sector. Despite legislative attempts to reverse the repeal, the regulations were formally repealed on April 23, 2018. At this moment, the future of internet entertainment streaming services seems bleak. It’s just a matter of time until cable TV monopolies reclaim control of streaming entertainment. Is this the end?
Mobile Internet to the Rescue
The backbone technology is the sole reason cable providers are winning. Streaming programmes and movies require a lot of bandwidth, which cable internet provides. Until recently, no other technology could dispute that. Companies are continuing to develop a fibre network infrastructure that may give customers options. However, infrastructure development is sluggish and availability is restricted.
However, there is a glimmer of light. In 2021, the mobile communication industry is set to release the next generation of internet data: 5G.
Image Credit: REDPIXEL/Depositphotos.com
The next time you are out in public, take a look at how people are already using their mobile devices. Now that most mobile carriers offer unlimited data packages priced on par with most cable internet packages, making the transition to a full mobile internet solution will be seamless.
The only thing holding most people back from using the 4G internet at home is bandwidth. However, when 5G (and later) mobile internet technologies overcome that limitation, services like YouTube TV and other live TV streaming solutions will fill that market. The need for a cable internet package will disappear entirely.
Wireless high-speed internet will open up a world of possibilities in entertainment delivery. We could see a world with the following technologies:
- Smart earpieces that stream music to your ear without the need to carry a phone
- Smart eyeglasses or contacts that wirelessly deliver augmented content
- Streaming entertainment screens inside every new vehicle on the market
- Countless new products that connect to your mobile data plan for streaming content
Once people can switch over to a wireless internet capable of transmitting the same quality and amount of data as cable internet, cable television will become an archaic concept. This rise in the competition will mean freedom and flexibility of choice for you.
2. Brick-and-Mortar Car Dealerships
Buying a vehicle traditionally involves driving to local showrooms and looking at cars. While doing so, you are typically approached by a vehicle salesman who wants to lure you inside the dealership to close a transaction. The internet educated the customer.
Car purchasers would look up prices on sites like Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. It enabled customers to go into a dealership knowing what a “good price” was for a specific vehicle. Unfortunately, you still had to walk into the dealership and haggle with a salesman who attempted to persuade you that the extra features justified the increased price.
However, more services are cropping up that are bringing Amazon-style consumerism into the auto sales industry.
- Vroom: Shop for a car online and have it delivered directly to your home or a nearby location. You can even apply for financing.
- NowCar: Pick a type of car or truck you want, add or remove features, set a budget, and browse. Surprisingly, the delivery is free.
These services bring the convenience of click-and-deliver Amazon-style shopping to the car buying experience. Even with a delivery fee, paying a premium for the luxury of avoiding a car salesperson would be worth it.
Unfortunately, as these services become more popular, it could lead to the end of physical car dealerships and remove the need for on-site sales staff. It means that you’ll be able to shop for a car in your pyjamas, and never have to haggle over a car purchase again.
3. Taxi Services
It is clear at this point that services like Uber and Lyft are disrupting the taxi service industry.
Even people who might have been nervous about using a taxi service, or confused about how to call or find one, are the same people who feel utterly confident opening up an app on their phone and summoning an Uber ride. Some of the things that make these services so much better than a traditional taxi service include:
Once public confidence in these services became mainstream, adoptions rates proliferated. In 2017, Forbes reported that Uber had over 40 million active monthly riders, and an app install rate of at least 150,000 new installs a day.
It is most likely only the beginning. The technology that forms the platform for services like Uber and Lyft are allowing other startups to compete:
- Curb: This is the taxi industry’s answer to public demand for convenience and ease-of-use. The mobile app works in 60 cities across the country and allows users to request a professional taxi or for-hire car service quickly.
- Via: An exciting, new take on commuter ride-sharing. Via drivers follow a route defined by the company, not by drivers. The algorithm creates a stress-free commute for as many people as possible, and a relaxed driver who is working for an hourly rate, not racing around to pick up as many fares as possible.
- Hitch-a-Ride: This app lets people offer a ride to anyone along their daily commute, at a fraction of the cost of a taxi or other services.
When you boil this technology down to its basics, these are simply services that make use of the mobile internet for ride-sharing purposes. Because of this, ride-sharing apps are likely to multiply as time goes on.
This may lead to a full collapse of the taxi industry, but what it means to you is that in many communities, it may no longer be necessary even to own a car. This will not only bring many people newfound freedom, but it could also contribute to a better environment.
4. Traditional Currency
Cryptocurrency is a digital currency built upon the foundational technology known as a “blockchain”. The concept of a blockchain was first developed by someone going by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008.
The technology can transmit a digital unit of currency via a peer-to-peer system. Multiple nodes of a network (miners) validate every single transaction in the system, with every transaction stored in a public ledger. The validation introduces a level of security for both the sender and the recipient that surpasses most existing transaction security protocols. But the most compelling, disruptive element of the technology is that it removed the need for a “middleman”—such as a bank—serving as the manager of those transactions.
Individuals own “wallets”, which serve as the endpoints of transactions. The unit of currency used in each transaction is a Bitcoin (or another cryptocurrency), which holds its own value based on the market demand for it. If the mainstream adopts the use of blockchain as a secure method of sending and receiving money, how will that blockchain disrupt the banking industry?
- Bank accounts will not be necessary as endpoints in a cryptocurrency scenario
- There will be no need for an institution like the Federal Reserve to manipulate the value of financial units
- Governments will have no method to interrupt or interfere with an individual’s financial transactions
- Thieves cannot take money from a central storage facility—the only way to steal cryptocurrency is through hacking
It is that last point that many observers disagree on. Many say the major issue with cryptocurrency is that it is susceptible to hacking. Also, since many users store their cryptocurrency “wallets” in exchanges like Coinbase, the danger of theft from a hack is just as dangerous. The theft of Bitcoin from Mt. Gox is a perfect example.
At the beginning of its history, many people were saying that Bitcoin could mark the end of the banking industry. The reality is that cryptocurrencies may only change how people look at currency, and how currency is valued.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are not disruptive technology. The disruptive technology is the blockchain. Both large banks and small startup companies have recognised the significant value of blockchain security. In 2017, Financial Times reported on the most significant areas banks are looking to capitalise on blockchain technology:
- Handling financial settlement without the need for an escrow account
- Providing more secure financial transactions
- Modernising paper-based trade finance
- More secure customer identity verification
- Managing loans more efficiently.
Outside of the banking industry, small companies are building new products on top of blockchain technology. This has birthed a whole new area of startups known as an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), analogous to the Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the stock market.
In the next years, new goods and services will be introduced that will enable self-enclosed economies to expand and thrive. Imagine a virtual world where a “virtual coin” has the same worth as gold and can be transferred between users as securely as a bank account transaction. This is a brand new technology that is still in its infancy.
5. Grocery Store Cashiers
If you’ve recently visited a grocery store, you may have seen two technologies that hint at the future of retail purchasing. The first is a row of self-serve kiosks without a clerk on hand to scan your purchases. Grocery stores are well aware that customer complaints about long queues at the checkout are the most common. This fact, combined with the increased demand for at-home delivery choices such as Amazon, has resulted in the establishment of numerous new organisations offering grocery delivery services.
So far, there are a few companies that offer this service in more populated areas throughout the US:
- Peapod: This grocery delivery service also offers free delivery of groceries for an annual fee. The service remembers past orders, and there’s also a “specials” area for saving some money. They also double manufacturer coupons.
- Instacart: This same-day grocery delivery service has been partnering with major grocery chains, like Whole Foods, to offer delivery to loyal shoppers. Instacart is only available in major cities, and the service fee is from 5 to 7.5 per cent of the total bill plus a delivery fee. For an annual membership, the delivery fee is waived for orders over $35.
These services are gaining enormous popularity in our instant-gratification, consumer-based world. This popularity is aided further by the advent of mobile applications that make getting groceries as simple as ordering pizza. Paying a little charge to avoid spending hours in the grocery shop is a highly tempting proposal in a booming economy when families have more revenue available for goods. This tendency will almost certainly result in fewer grocery store customers and fewer cashier jobs in local areas. However, on the plus side, there will be plenty of supermarket delivery jobs available!
The Impact of Disruptive Technologies
It’s difficult to foresee the future. Current technological developments in the industries mentioned above hint at major changes in the future years. These improvements will provide consumers with greater choice and convenience.
Sadly, it also implies a significant change in employment availability and the need for retraining and career modification. It’s impossible to predict the future, but disruptive innovations in these five areas are nearly mainstream. They will only develop in time.