The Economic Impact of the Star Trek Transporter

Did you ever think how many people would lose their jobs and lose their fortunes if a transporter like the one on Star Trek was suddenly introduced?  We soon wouldn’t need cars, airplanes, trains, or boats.  The ripple effect from the failure of these industries would bring down banks and governments.  It might be a good thing in the long run, but it might well cause a world-wide depression in the meantime that would dwarf anthing we have seen before.  The whole world would change.

The Internet is having a similar impact, but it isn’t putting businesses out of business overnight.  It is putting them out of business slowly and painfully.  Among the most excruciating deaths are the newspapers.  Beloved newspapers all over the world are dying at an unprecedented rate.  Many have alreadydied, and many others, including the Boston Globe and the New York Times, are losing money at an unsustainable rate.

Other businesses have also taken a beating from the Internet.  Manufacturers have found that they don’t need retailers in some cases, while others, like Apple, find they are useful but that doesn’t stop the manufacturer from competing with their own retailers.  Retail was never an easy way to make a living, but it has gotten much harder now.  This is a huge boon to manufacturers, particularly new manufacturers, because the cost and difficulty of getting their goods to customers has dropped dramatically.  At some point, this should cause a rise in manufacturing start-ups.

Service businesses also are having to adapt to a new playing field.  Travel agencies are just one example of a business that is nothing like it was twenty years ago or even ten.  Travel has changed from top to bottom, and the Internet is just part of that.

The whole world of middlemen has become very, very different, but service deliverers have had to change too.  Ten years ago we went to Williams, Arizona for a family vacation.  I did the research on line, but I did not book a place because we were not sure what day we would arrive.  I took my list of motels from the Internet to Williams.  We found a nice place with no trouble, but every place on my list was booked solid.  Most of the other places were less than half full.

Interent communications are one of the  the most important factors for almost any service company.  If you run a motel, a golf course, a skating rink, or almost anything else you can think of, you have to bring customer in through the Internet.

In short, the Internet is just like the Star Trek transporter.  It is a big train taking over the station.  You can get on board or get out of the way.


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