Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Death of a Category – Coming Soon to Your Industry?


Have you ever watched an entire business category slide below the horizon? I first did while too young to understand what I was watching – as passenger and mixed passenger/freight railroads didn’t make the bend. But even when I hit graduate school years later the “Penn Central” case study was still very current. Classic example of not changing business model in the face of rapid environmental change.

Since then we’ve all seen more sectors fade from sight. Everything from neighborhood full service groceries; to specialty consumer a/v stores; to big, powerful cars that could pass everything but a gas station; and more recently, we’ve witnessed the demise of mid-sized airlines, mid-priced jewelers plus shoe store and bookstore chains. And we’re now inexorably heading towards the end of client-server computing (outside of extreme speed enterprise stuff) and even PCs themselves.

But what’s next? Are we ready for online niche categories to fade away, just as brick and mortar business categories did? I believe online travel services are toast, as are a plethora of social media services. And Are we ready to turn traditional healthcare on its ear? I suspect we’re reaching the end of medical clinics staffed by FPs and GPs. Likewise physical tax preparation services and perhaps all tax preparation services.  A simplified tax code would send most of the accounting industry packing.

So what’s on your candidate list for extinction?