Ever since the iPad came out, entire industries have been shaken, stirred and disrupted. Some of these industries will be completely different in a few years, some might go under and some still might survive in limited ways. I wanted to see how many industries I could think up that were disrupted by the iPad. A little exercise in racking the brain.
The first industry that came to my mind was Magazines. I myself have an iPad, and the Zinio app which is remarkable. All your previous magazines that you used to buy at the News Agency or Bookstore, are now online. I’m not sure if all of them are electronically available, but the major ones are there, and there are hundreds to choose from. National Geographic, Time, Popular Science & Mechanics and so on and forth. In a few years, there might be no such thing as hard copy magazines, except as collectors items. Book stores are going to take a hit, as well as news agencies. Book stores are also being assaulted by the Kindle.
Web browsing is going through a large transition now as more and more web pages are viewed on mobile devices like the iPad. After the iPad was released, and started selling tens of millions of units, the netbook category took a nose dive in the amount of units sold. It seems as if people were choosing between a netbook and an iPad. At the end of the day, they seem to go after the same market. Neither of these two devices are supposed to be a primary device. They are mainly for content consumption instead of creation. Choosing between a cheap plastic, overly cramped keyboard with an operating system that makes tortoises seem to move fast, and a slick aluminium, thin designed piece of hardware with a custom made OS designed to leverage the hardware. It’s almost a no brainer. The iPad will win almost every time, provided the end user can afford it of course. The cheapest iPad is usually more expensive then the majority of net books. I sit here myself typing out this blog post on an iPad 2.
As we transition to an increasingly electronic society, is the demise of newspapers. There are thousands of apps on the App Store, for both the iPad and the iPhone to deliver news content in personalised, or generalised formats. CNN, Fox News, The NY and LA Times all have apps to deliver news directly to mobile users. Come a few years from now, maybe a decade or so and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that newspapers are gone altogether and we receive our news completely electronically via mobile devices, tablets and our computers. Journalism by any case will not become less important, but it may become much more competitive as the time between event and news story becomes ever smaller. Competitiveness in an industry that requires truth and honesty is not a good thing in my opinion. People start to take shortcuts. So it remains to be seen how that will play out. I sure do hope I’m wrong.
There is also a brand new type of app that has the potential to wreak much havoc almost everywhere, the Augmented Reality App. These type of apps have the potential to displace or make irrelevant many travel apps, as just the first example that came to my head. I’m sure other more imaginative people can think of more industries these type of apps will disrupt. I travel regularly, I’ve visited 23 countries, and well over 100 cities. There was a time when to travel somewhere, and really know the lay of the land. You either had to have a friend give you all the tips, before the web you had books like the Lonely Planet series, or you checked wikitravel.org (That’s what I do) or various other websites. But with an iPad or iPhone, you can download augmented reality travel apps that use your GPS position, camera, axis tilt and other sensory information to tell you the closet landmarks, show you pictures, how popular they are, the route to get there via walking, car or public transportation. You can decide before you have exerted any energy whether to go check it out or not. Its incredibly useful and saves you lots of time, in the pre-planning stages, and while on the ground. Just pack your stuff, download the app, and once you get there, load up the app and decide what you want to do. I have used these types of apps in Greece, Spain and Italy. Makes travelling a much more pleasant experience.
As more and more time goes on, I imagine more industries are going to become disrupted by the iPad and other tablets. Hulu is just hitting its stride, and it can do to movies and TV what Apple did to music, or the rumored Apple TV next year might usurp it.
At the end of the day, I think this is all a good thing. There will be job losses, and I feel for those people but the more electronic we make things, the more energy and greener we become. Besides, the people who are in the above fields are usually highly educated folk, and shouldn’t have much trouble finding a new job. But pain is the name of the game when it comes to change, I don’t think there is anyway to avoid it except to get through it as fast as possible.
Here’s to a rational future!