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Innovate or Die

Thirty years ago my Dad and I went out and bought our family’s first VCR.  Well, he bought it.  I picked it out.  When we got home my Mom was not happy that we, make that he, went out and spent a couple hundred bucks on “some toy for us to play with”.  However when we told he what it did, and how she would never miss another one of her TV shows, she was in a much better mood and I lived to write this.

I bring this up because this story to me seems very symbolic of the changing nature of technology and its impact our economy.  And while a lot of us are willing to adapt, too many of us are not and run the risk of getting left behind.

In today’s Indianapolis Star there is a story about the tug of war between Airbnb, the online home sharing service and the hospitality industry.   Airbnb allows homeowners to rent out their places for people looking for a place to stay for a few days and there’s no room at the inn.  The hospitality industry is screaming about fairness and regulation.  Typical.

I find it amusing how when technology and innovation arrive on the scene, the old economy goes into a tailspin.  While the big fight between Uber, Lyft and the taxi industry may come to mind, I can take you back a lot further.  There was a time when the film industry was ready to go to war over the VCR because it thought no one would go to the movies anymore and just stay home and watch them on tape.  I am not making this up.

Instead of fighting ideas and innovation the old economy should embrace it, and if they’re smart, co-op it.  Think of the industries that have been slow to change and see if they are still thriving or for that matter still around.   (When was the last time you went to Blockbuster Video?)   Heck,  the print media was slow to embrace the Internet and now you can see what’s happening there.

This is Darwinism in its purest form folks, innovate or die.  How hard is that to figure out?



  • malercous

    Only problem with Uber & Lyft is we don’t know who the drivers are. Taxis are regulated & the drivers have been vetted & have Chauffeur’s licenses. The regulations are there for public safety reasons.

    Before VCRs came about, there was a lot of push-back from the music industry about selling blank media (reel to reel, 8-track, cassette, CD) for fear that the artists would lose revenue. They were right, but the losses weren’t really measurable. Seems that as the artists got recorded on tapes, etc., they received more exposure which generated more record sales. It’s still copyright infringement, but with digital music it’s practically unenforceable.

  • Joe Berkemeier

    “This is Darwinism in its purest form folks, innovate or die. How hard is that to figure out?”

    Ask the package liquor industry in Indiana.