The second blog in The Voice of MarketInvoice blog competition is from Paul Crayston.

What do travel agents, cassette tapes, and the AA route planner all have in common? They have all been rendered near extinct by technology.

Looking further back there is the telephone exchange, the spinning wheel, and whale hunting all rendered obsolete under the relentless march of technological progression.

So what staples of modern life might be next to go? Here are some suggestions:

Black cabs

There’s something increasingly quaint about the idea of standing on a cold, wet street waving suggestively at cars that might stop and take you for a ride. I’m referring to black cabs, of course… get your mind out of the gutter. With the rapid rise of ride sharing/taxi booking smartphone apps, we no longer have to take our chances on the side of the road.Whilst several cities are beginning to resist Uber and its competitors, the resistance feels somewhat of a temporary bump, rather than a permanent road block. Waving my arm at the side of the road just doesn’t feel like the future.  And yet…


Given its latest valuation at $40bn, the common investor consensus seems to be that Uber is leading the race in a winner-takes-all market. Whichever service has the most drivers, and the most passengers, wins. And it’s clearly a big market, Uber is estimated to have taken in $2bn of revenue last year, with plenty of slack for growth. But there’s a fundamental flaw to the long-term revenue growth of companies like Uber, an innovation which could change the market entirely, and completely reconceive how we get from A to B, even in the most congested of cities:

Driverless cars.

10% of the leather industry

Ok, so 10% is a bit of a wild guess. But if I no longer need a wallet or purse I must be leaving some cows to graze the fields a little longer. Take a look through your wallet/purse, is there anything in there that could not be stored digitally? Chances are much of the information – bank account details, store loyalty cards, travel cards – is already held digitally. If it can all be stored digitally, it can all be accessed far smarter, and far more securely, than in a wallet/purse. Smartphones are the natural home for this data, despite security concerns. Perhaps the leather industry can make up for lost ground through phone cover sales…

Typing and writing

In Kurt Vonnegut’s memoir A Man Without a Country the great writer laments the end of the typist industry, whereby his draft manuscripts would be typed up (near) perfectly by a professional typist:

“…and I know it will be so neat, just like it was done by a computer.”

Therein lay the problem.

But typing of course has thrived in the age of computers – it’s just that we’re expected to do it for ourselves. So what of the post keyboard age?

Touch typing has been the norm on tablets and smartphones for several years now, but swipe typing and voice dictation are becoming increasingly popular. In the longer term, why the need for any physical action at all, why not just ‘think dictation’? Innovations led by the medical industry have brought programmes enabling people to perform actions such as writing, drawing, and even driving a car, whilst using only their brains (and not their bodies). A clear mass-market implementation of this kind of programming would be to do away with typing altogether. One of mankind’s earliest innovations – writing – is under threat.

Non list-based journalism

37 things you didn’t know about cats… 15 things that only people with nine fingers will understand… Five things that technology will wipe out…

The death of the newspaper has long been predicted, and whilst the printing presses are still working overtime in some large, developing countries – notably India – this is heavily connected to audience connectivity (in India, a strong history of news consumption across class groups is not mirrored in internet access).

What few have considered in real depth (prophetically, as you’ll see) is the impact the move to online news consumption will have on the type of news we read.

The success of BuzzFeed is reliant on two core components, disguising ‘paid-for content’, and creating engaging ‘click-bait’ content. Its success on both fronts has caused traditional media players to tweak their own offerings. The Daily Mirror has launched two outfits to produce ‘socially shared’ content, churning out wonders such as “How much are you hated by the Daily Mail?” and “How northern are you?” Even the Financial Times has a ‘Fast FT’ service and in September this year launched a re-design of its printed editionto, in the words of editor Lionel Barber, “complement”.

This never ending swirl of bitesize content, through which we can learn about the world’s goings on over our lunch time katsu, reduces our appetite for more thought out, in-depth study of important issues.

In short – because that’s the only way you want to read it – we will know less about more stuff.