Jan 5, 2011

Changing Technology Changing Economy

Changing Technology Changing Economy

The pace of change in our economy and way of life is incredibly fast. My father, who is 90, saw incredible changes during his life. And at 63 years of age I have seen plenty of change myself.

The Internet, computers, cell phones, and social networking keep changing things. The way we communicate now is radically different than just a few years ago. And companies that were successful for many years can go down quickly.

Look at the sale of books. I can remember the first time I saw a bookstore in San Diego that also served coffee and light desserts. It was clear that this was a successful business model, and a few years later Barnes and Noble and Borders created great successful national chains that grew from nothing into large successful businesses. And in the process they sent into bankruptcy numerous small mom and pop bookstores that could not compete.

My wife and I go to both these stores frequently, enjoy looking through books and magazines, and enjoying their expensive coffee drinks.  And a year ago we spent a lot of money in both places buying books and periodicals.

But now we own a Kindle, a Nook, and IPAD.  We download most of our reading material. And sales that were made at Barnes and Noble and Borders now are distributed to many other on line retailers.

Barnes and Noble made the first move, and brought the Nook to the market. So we still buy books from Barnes and Noble by downloading them to the Nook. But we now have a choice of numerous on line vendors to purchase reading material.

My wife continues to purchase numerous books on line for either her Kindle or Nook. But I do most of my reading on my IPAD.  There is a lot of great free content on blogs and on line magazines.  And all the great class literature is available for free from http://books.google.com/.  So I am spending a lot less on reading material.

This of course cuts into profits of Borders and Barnes and Noble. Both companies will have difficulties, and I doubt that both can survive.

And this impact carries over to our cities. Borders and Barnes and Noble added vitality, property and sales tax, and jobs for cities. Some of that will disappear into the internet.

And who knows what technology will next bring?  Hard to imagine, but it should be fun to watch. Unless you are a major stockholder of a business that is on the downward side of the technological shift.