A recent spate of announcements is emphasizing (if emphasis were needed) the scale and range of disruption that is happening around us. It brings to mind a conference session from a couple of years ago. It was about arenas and disruption.
Futurist Gerd Leonhard suggested that the word “industry” is becoming obsolete. It is too static, too ordered and structured to continue to describe the shifting sands of the technology world as it spills into every corner of the physical one. With the entry barriers becoming lower, companies can play one role in a new arena, and partner with natural rivals. In another arena, they can choose a different strategy where the partner in the first arena is now the rival.
Which brings us to present-day Amazon.com. If there was any doubt that Amazon wants to conquer the physical retail arena as well as the digital one, its offer to buy Whole Foods Market must elevate that trend beyond doubt. Such is the power of Amazon that the news triggered a slump in the stock price of several major food retailers – even the colossus that is Wal-Mart was not immune.
For a technology company to even consider such a move a few short years ago would have seemed illogical, even insane. For a technology company to actually go through with it now seems bold and sends shock waves through the arena that it is pushing into.
Meanwhile. Apple – which is now officially in the TV show production business with Planet Of The Apps – has announced it hired two key executives from Sony Pictures. The latest foray into original content by Apple will be led by the people behind some of the best TV series of the last few years.
Apple’s advantage in TV is the number of iPhones, iPads and other devices out there. With a viewer base of potentially a billion, it has a great platform from which to grow. Apple’s other advantage is, as one analyst put it, “these companies do not need to make money off video because they can make money other ways. And they are going to have tons of data on their viewers.”
Yet, while this disruption is exciting, bold, mad, or however else you look at it, one thing is certain. Even the largest technology companies are not immune to a dose of common sense. Last week the largest five technology companies – Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft – saw $120 billion wiped off their market capitalization.
Whilst this was seen as a correction rather than real concern, it still proves that the roller coaster ride between arenas is getting too wild for some investors’ blood.