The age of arenas – not industries – has truly begun

Image credit: Peshkova /

The blurring of the boundaries between industries – which is creating arenas of competition rather than silos of companies that stick to just one silo – continues apace. As with everything else that is being disrupted or blurred, it is happening at different speeds and in different ways.

Mobile phone company Three in the UK is blurring boundaries but mainly for marketing purposes. They now have a campaign on the back of the easyJet seat in front of you which a) has a picture of a giraffe with sunglasses and a very upmarket handbag and b) says ‘Bags off, Swagger on!’.

The idea is that if you are a Three customer, they will take your hand luggage from you in the terminal and hand it back to you when you land so that you avoid all that swearing and bumping and shoving and elbowing that goes on when you are racing to get your case into the overhead locker while 20 others are trying to do the same.

The blurring of arenas gets more serious when you consider how traditional industries simply do not exist anymore. Take a car ten years from now. Will it actually be a car, or will it be an office or playroom?

Whatever it looks like from the outside, it will be a computer inside, constantly testing, monitoring and correcting a range of functions, while keeping you on the road, in touch and entertained (all good reasons not to buy one, truth be told).

The car industry – sorry, car arena – is probably the one that is being disrupted the most. Perhaps it would be true to say that the car arena is not merely being disrupted but completely redefined as technology becomes more important than wheels and engines and things.

For example, Apple has plans for the car arena. It’s not clear what its plans actually are, but MacRumor commentator Ming-Chi Kuo believes that Apple’s big car announcement will arrive around 2023 to 2025, and when it does, it will be as big as their first iPhone one.

Why? According to Kuo:

The reasons for this are as follows: (1) Potentially huge replacement demands are emerging in the auto sector because it is being redefined by new technologies. The case is the same as the smartphone sector 10 years ago; (2) Apple’s leading technology advantages (e.g. AR) would redefine cars and differentiate Apple Car from peers’ products; (3) Apple’s service will grow significantly by entering the huge car finance market via Apple Car, and (4) Apple can do a better integration of hardware, software, and service than current competitors in the consumer electronics sector and potential competitors in the auto sector.

On the Apple car theme, we can only wait, see and – of course – speculate wildly.

The key thing to remember about arenas is that they will be fluid. Incredibly fluid.

Arenas is a term that has been used to describe what used to be called industries for some years now by futurist like Gerd Leonhard. But then it was definitely in a ‘absolutely right, that is what I have been thinking myself’ way.

Now, whatever Apple announces in about six years’ time – whether it’s a holographic steering wheel or a complete Apple branded car – we are now truly in the age of arenas.

And companies are free to be a part of almost any arena they choose – where a world of vastly increased risk and reward awaits.

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