Internet crushes textbook racket — schools next
The textbook industry has long been controlled by giants such as McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt who have charged outrageous prices and have practiced planned obsolescence (version revisions). A host of digital-first alternatives, including Pearson, are busting the traditional practices by offering digital editions, open-source textbooks (think Wikipedia) and subscription models (think Netflix). Research shows, however, that learning is less efficient with digital versus printed textbooks. Wired
dis-rup-shun: Another example of how the Internet resolves inefficient markets and creates competition where it is stifled. This shift will include new ways to deliver and complete homework and new teaching styles required to address the reduced effectiveness of digital versus tactile learning. Schools must adjust delivery and test styles before more efficient, online-only institutions figure out how to create new methods to deliver better performing (test-taking) students and disrupt colleges and universities altogether.
5G deployment has real estate implications
The CEO of American Tower, a REIT that owns and leases locations for cell tower operators, reports that 5G requires towers to be closer together, potentially increasing real estate demand. He reported that cellular data growth on 4G is 30% per year, supporting evidence that the market for cellular data services remains strong. CNBC
dis-rup-shun: The merger of T-Mobile and Sprint promises significant investment in 5G. The fact that it will take nearly a decade to complete a national build-out of 5G facilities (when do we expect 6G?) offers a strong economic growth engine for telecommunications suppliers and carriers, and tower companies as well. A host of smart stock investments surround 5G deployment.
Good news for Fitbit fans
Fitbit is releasing a new device, the Versa, that looks and acts more like an Apple watch, but without the apps and without the price tag. What’s more, the device supports Alexa, besting the problematic Siri. Gizmodo
dis-rup-shun: The Apple watch is an amazing device, but many are content with specialty devices that are simple and inexpensive. Golf watches, running watches and fitness trackers can be had for quite a bit less than Apple’s or Samsung’s top of the line wearables. Having premium products and value products are typical of any category, and market share in both should increase — but pity those brands that try to play in the middle and aren’t cheap enough or aren’t good enough to compete at either end of the spectrum.
Cashless retail meets opposition
Cashless methods for purchases bring many conveniences, including no change, less fraud and theft, and high average transactions. A number of companies, including Amazon, have built prototype cashless stores (Amazon Go). About 25% of the U.S. population, however, is without banking services, or “underbanked,” excluding them from cashless outlets. Wired
dis-rup-shun: Technology, for all its many benefits, continues to add to the digital divide, leaving many further behind. Online banking can close the gap, providing a more secure place to hold money for those who live in unsafe places, or who may not have permanent addresses. Access to those resources, however, requires an expensive smartphone with a monthly fee. There is a significant opportunity to provide online banking services to those with poor credit and low savings, but it will require easy and secure access methods through basic touch tone phones and shared public computers.