Disruptive technology can revolutionize entire economies. This has certainly been the effect of information technology on nearly every industrialized nation and many emerging economies. But the devices, software, and applications associated with such technologies do not stand still; they continue to advance. An unending process of innovation and entrepreneurship challenges people to re-think and re-think again the ways they consume and deliver goods and services. It makes it so that the first companies that had new mover advantages in developing and selling the products that incorporate such technologies soon face new rivals.
The story of PayPal is a prime example of this phenomenon. When it was founded in 1998, it provided a unique online payment solution. Since then a number of worthy competitors have sprung up and denied this thriving company a monopoly over the market. The one advantage that PayPal has is its size and the sprawl of services it offers. Rival companies providing a gateway payment product tend to offer more specialized services. This means the online money habits of each consumer will determine whether they use PayPal or an alternative.
The brief search engine war between Yahoo/Lycos and Google is another example of how a pioneering company was rapidly overtaken by a rival that made significant advances in the application of new technology. The Yahoo search engine began its decline in the late 2000s. It did not take long for the decline to lead to its complete demise. Google is now the unparalleled master of search engine technology. Indeed, the word Google has become synonymous with using a search engine. Even though a number of search engine alternatives exist, to Google something is almost universally understood to mean carrying out an online search for it.
The continued success of Google stands as an example of how a pioneering tech company can continue to stay on top. Google’s remarkable ability to develop and rapidly incorporate the most advanced search engine algorithms keeps it ahead of its peers and makes it the search engine of choice for consumers.
Private transport has also been revolutionized by technology. There was a time when taxi cabs dominated the private transport industry. And although small innovations such as online booking helped some cab companies get ahead of their rivals, rideshare technology has completed transformed how people get from one place to another.
Companies like Uber and Lyft have merely extended the idea of carpooling and employed technology that was already available. Rideshare allows people to get the transportation they need almost immediately. Nearly anyone with a car can turn it into a taxi service, which means individuals who need transport can get it straight away from
someone who is close to where they happen to be.
The old days of hunting down cabs only to be snubbed by them are over, with Uber and Lyft slaying the existing taxicab industry. This form of transport allows people to enjoy safe, convenient, and relatively inexpensive travel, and the arrangement in each case is enabled by an app.
Improvements in technology have allowed outsiders to challenge entrenched companies and interests with great success. In the end, the consumer wins. Better, faster, cheaper, more reliable services tend to be the result of such innovations. Being a pioneering tech company does not guarantee a permanent place in the market. The one great thing about technology is that it can be mastered and developed by others, and the fruits of this development used to create a better product and much more effective solutions.
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