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6 industries / businesses the web changed forever.

Paul Anthony / December 12, 2008

Posted in: Archive

In the words of the mighty Bob Dylan. The times they are a changin’. Or correction – ‘the times they have a changed’. There are a many traditional industries that wish the internet had never happened, as their business models have been severely affected by it. Give it a couple of years and there will be plenty more casualties. Here are a few companies / industries that have had to adjust or consider their existing business models to survive the growth of the web.

Yellow Pages

How many of you had one of these door stops land on your door without warning? I’m guessing quite a few, and you had no say in the matter. If there was somewhere I could opt out that would be great. The yellow pages (book) is redundant. But without a wide distribution across the land, their existing advertisers will be gone, which is why you didn’t get asked if you wanted to receive one.

They have attempted to move online with (some) success, but their sales staff didn’t have me convinced. Google finds everything I need, so I’m guessing they are scoring the most goals with the advertisers without an existing website.

Royal Mail

Companies are moving towards a paperless office. The government is shouting “environmentally friendly” at the top of it’s lungs. And what are Royal mail doing? Encouraging E-mail marketing? Positioning themselves as a SaaS provider for email marketing? Integrating E-mail marketing to Geotarget using their postcode databases? No I don’t think so. They are still trying to sell stamps. That said Royal mail’s website does have some useful features, but these are all concentrating on offline methods of communication. I don’t think that traditional snail mail will be completely replaced – especially for the larger packages etc. But there’s no doubt that mail volume has been reduced because of the web.


I’ve already said before that television is dying. Many people resent paying license fees. The BBC, ITV and BT are to develop a broadband Freeview service – Project Canvas. So at least they recognise that they are going to have to put infrastructure in place to support television via the web. When (not if) quality and speed improves to the point that matches traditional tv – it will be bye bye to tv as we know it.


Offline newspapers have the immediate advantage that with every one sold, there is an associated revenue. Bloggers have to work ten times as hard to generate revenue, because every reader doesn’t necessarily click on an Advert. Unfortunately for newspapers, Generation Y aren’t such a fan of the old newspapers – many would rather read their dailies from the comfort of their hand helds. Whether that be an IPhone or other latest gizmo. With that newspapers have now had to favour the advertising over direct sale model.

Personally I have the Times, and the Guardian amongst other’s in my internet favourites. Think I’ve bought the actual paper maybe ten times max.  The NY Times tried a subscription based model , and later changed their minds.


How many record companies are still doing their best to make us buy records?  Not going to happen. Illegal downloads are a way of life, stop resisting, and come up with a better way of delivering value to music fans. Would I pay to create a compilation of the songs that I choose in store, and receive a freshly burned CD with custom album art I create? Yes I would. Custom radio shows with tailored content – would I pay for a subscription? Yes I would.

They just have to think of more creative ways of monetising. The Itunes store has been a great success. Amazon have started offering digital downloads. It’s the shape of things to come.

Software Delivery

Software used to come in shiny boxed packages, but as the web becomes more widespread – it now makes sense to get rid of the packaging, and the associated manufacturing cost, and move to a pay once download many model. Microsoft have recently opened the Microsoft Store which offers all of it’s products via digital download.

  • Business
  • change
  • models
  • yellow pages

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