For 15+ years the Internet has been revolutionizing modern life in many different ways: communication between people, information search, consumption. Along the way, it has “completely upended entire industries, killing off or reducing existing power brokers, removing middle men, and ushering in new leaders”.
But it’s far from finished in reshaping industries – lots of transformation is waiting to happen in the years ahead. There are entire industries that have been only lightly touched so far but are destined to be caught in the eye of the storm eventually. Here are the upcoming ones:
The movie industry has been under intense pressure over the past decade as large-screen television sets have come down in price and high definition movies have made the home experience feel more and more like a small movie theater. The most important reason why movie theaters still have such a strong business and still exist is that the most anticipated films still show up in the theaters months before they come to pay-per-view, disc, and premium channels. So, it’s all about controlling content distribution. And that’s likely to change soon. But for instance, Hollywood is already experimenting with the idea of selling movies directly to consumers at home (streamed over the Internet) at the same time the movies arrive in theaters. Movie studios will charge a higher fee (possibly $30) for such experience but many families already pay $50 or more to go to the movies all together and some would rather save time and watch it in the comfort of their own homes. Not likely that theaters will go away but they will decrease in number and turn into much more of a premium experience.
It’s an industry that thrives on the latest scientific research and cutting edge equipment to improve people’s health, but can’t adequately transfer patient information between healthcare providers and remains snowed under an avalanche of inefficient paperwork that drives up costs and wastes time. Recently in many countries the government is trying to push for an electronic medical record (EMR) that the patient (not the healthcare provider) controls, in the U.S. by 2014 for example. Although the idea seems so brilliant the details are still working themselves out and there are some legitimate concerns about it. When it happens, it will not only shift the investment in healthcare dollars away from old processes and products and into a lot more IT systems, but it also has the potential to give patients more ownership of their own healthcare experience, which could have unforeseen consequences for pricing, provider choice, and provider accountability.
3. Book publishing
Amazon has completely changed the way most people buy books, and it’s done it in two ways. First, it made it fast and easy to buy books online, and at a huge discount and with a much larger selection of obscure titles. Because of Amazon, book-buying was one of the first things people become comfortable purchasing over the Internet. Second, Amazon’s Kindle has popularized e-books, which takes the process of delivering paper goods completely out of the equation.
While this has been a revolution for consumers, the Internet has done very little to revolutionize the publishing process for books. It is still ruled by publishing houses, who serve as the gatekeepers and filters for what gets published and decide which titles deserve the most promotion (and potential sales). However, just as it did for news publishing, the Internet is about to completely democratize the publishing process for books. The combination of e-readers, electronic audiobooks, and print-on-demand have lowered the barriers to entry and made it so that authors no longer need publishing houses. They can take their work straight to the masses, at least straight to their niche audiences. So, in the new Internet world, there are going to be a lot more books published (as e-books), there will be room for more people to make a living as niche authors, and the traditional publishers will morph into promotional agents for the really big titles.
So, what else do you predict to see as next Internet transformers? Are you waiting for your refrigirator to start do grossery shopping for you? 🙂
Post your picks and ideas in the discussion below.