Disruptors. We’ve all seen them. They can be people, companies, technologies or even just concepts. They have been around for a long time. We’ve seen disruptive technologies in movies and media for decades.
I remember when Sony’s Betamax was first introduced. I wondered if this technology would really change the way we watched movies. Many thought that Betamax was just too limiting. It really didn’t have the capacity to show movies the way that we are used to.
With the launch of video home system (VHS), a lot of the technological obstacles of watching full-length movies or concerts disappeared. VHS enabled many new opportunities for businesses to spring up around the world. Businesses that rented out movies (like Blockbuster) became a success overnight. Many people thought that being able to rent a movie and watch it at home would be detrimental to the movie industry and movie theaters, as people would go for convenience over the traditional movie theater experience.
VHS was soon disrupted by the advent of the digital versatile disk (DVD). Once again many members of the general public doubted that the DVD would really catch on, especially in the short term. People who had bought VHS tape players would now need to switch to a completely new system – the DVD player. In addition, DVD players were not reverse compatible with the old VHS. This disruptive technology once again created more opportunities for those entrepreneurial business leaders prepared to take advantage of the expanded capabilities of this new format.
The DVD lasted a long time and many people thought it was the be all and end all for storage, particularly movie and media renting, sharing and playing. However, this disruptive technology was overshadowed by faster internet speeds that opened up the world of streaming. This latest new technology has had both
a positive and negative impact on innovations and business models that relied on now-obsolete technologies. We saw businesses like Blockbuster fade into the sunset. But where there was darkness for some businesses, there was sunshine for others. We saw many streaming technologies launched, among them Apple TV, Netflix and later Amazon TV, which rapidly became the new competitive standards for watching movies, TV programs and even live events.
Today we are seeing disruptive technologies and new business models in almost every area of our lives, particularly in transportation. We’ve seen how Uber and Lyft have been accepted by commuters and travelers while disrupting taxi service models. If electric vehicles catch on, what will happen to the tens of thousands of gas stations? Will they disappear or adapt? Will the electrical grid be able to support the potentially millions of electric vehicles on the road? And will the mass acceptance of autonomous vehicles impact the insurance, legal and related transportation industries? We may
even see a disruption in municipal funding as driverless vehicles disrupt fine structures.
With disruption comes the need for adaptation. Time will tell what new and innovative transportation products and services will come out of this latest round of disruption.