We live in a dynamic world that is constantly changing as technology changes. New technologies are being developed that will replace old ways of doing things. As a result, some industries that did well in the past have found themselves relegated to the pages of history. The telegraph used to a reliable way to send urgent communications, but the development of digital communications has meant that there is not much use for the telegraph. And fax machines too have been supplanted by e-mail. Similarly, some of today’s industries are likely to be made obsolete in the future, a large number of them due to the growth of Internet and computer-based technologies.
Long a communications staple, the landline telephone has now lost ground to the mobile phone and Internet-based telephone services. According to research from IBIS World, this industry saw revenues drop off more than 50 percent between 2000 and 2010. And from 2010 through 2016, IBIS anticipates that the sector will lose more than a third of its revenue.
Video Rental Stores
Another casualty of the digital age is likely to be video and game rental stores. The fallout has been seen as Blockbuster, a once successful video rental business, filed for bankruptcy in 2009. People nowadays are able to stream their entertainment over the Internet from sites such as Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) and Hulu. This has caused revenues of this industry to drop off more than 14 percent a year from 2009 through 2014, according to IBIS World.
As people move over to digital photographs and use their convenient mobile phones to capture the moments in their lives, as well as anything interesting they come across, there is less and less of a need for the physical photofinishing process. This trend has impacted companies such as Eastman Kodak Company (KODK). The photofinishing industry’s revenues have dropped off by about 70 percent from 2000 through 2010, IBIS found. The research firm also expects the industry to lose another 40 percent of its revenue from 2010 through 2016.
And as we are now able to record information on digital media such as flash drives and hard discs, there has been a sharp falloff in demand for older recording media such as audio and videotapes. Consequently, revenues in the recordable media industry dropped off about 18 percent a year between 2009 and 2014, IBIS reports.
Another potential casualty is the taxicab industry. As we move to using applications such as Uber to summon up a ride, the taxicab sector has seen an impact on its business. The emergence of driverless cars that are being developed by companies such as Google, Inc. (GOOG), Tesla Motors, Inc. (TSLA), and possibly Apple, Inc. (AAPL), will also likely cut further into the taxicab industry’s business. Thus, this is another industry that is at danger of dying out.
Other at-risk industries
There are also other industries whose way of doing business is being impacted and that are at risk of no longer being relevant unless they change their business techniques. These include the electric power generation industry, which is being threatened by newer forms of power such as solar energy and wind energy. And the emergence of cloud storage solutions has also threatened the data recovery business as companies move to cloud storage. Cloud storage technology is not completely secure though, and there have been hacking incidents that compromise security, and it remains to be seen if this avenue will take over from other data storage solutions.
The Bottom Line
Technology keeps changing and there are always more modern ways to do something. Newer technologies give rise to new jobs and provide business opportunities, in addition to more efficient ways of doing business. That’s why investors should stay on top of current developments and keep track of changes that could impact the companies they invest in.