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5 of the Coolest Disruptive Technologies of the 20th Century

There is no doubt that technology is changing our world and how we live in it. Some industries that have been critical parts of our world will be forced to completely restructure how they do business or they will never survive. Here are 5 of the coolest disruptive technologies of the 20th century.

1. Napster/iTunes/YouTube and the Music Industry

It all started with Napster, if you were around in the early 2000’s chances are you downloaded a song or two from Napster. Napster was a file sharing site specializing in sharing files in the MP3 format, the most common type of audio file. They weren’t the first file sharing site but they were one of the most successful, they proved that music could be distributed digitally on a free site. At one point Napster had more than 80 million users, then the music industry came calling…with lawyers. Continuing legal battles finally forced the shutdown, but by then the damage was done and piracy wasn’t going away.

iTunes was the first legitimate digital music store to change the music industry and compete with piracy. iTunes blended the popularity of the iPod and online piracy into a successful venture. No longer were consumers forced to by an entire album just for one hit song. It turned the $.99 download into a staple and it allowed Indie artists to get noticed. Now music is all about the single and not the album and in the process recording artists got paid faster.

YouTube and the music industry are like an old married couple, mutually dependant and constantly fighting in public. YouTube has been responsible for amateur artists getting visibility and eventually getting signed, Justin Beiber is shining example of what YouTube can do for your career. Artists like Psy and his huge hit Gangam Style with more than 1 billion views made him more money from YouTube than he ever did from his record label. YouTube does try to protect copyrighted material and pay artists their fair share, the music industry claims they are not doing enough or paying enough.

2. Airbnb vs the Hospitality Industry

Founded back in 2008 Airbnb has defined itself as “a social website that connects people with space to share with those looking for a place to stay”. Like Uber has done to the taxi industry it has taken an established industry flipped it on its ear and left it fighting for survival. Hosts can list a spare room, or their entire or apartment or house they decide a nightly or weekly rate for Airbnb guests. Again like Uber they operate with little or no regulatory control. For the consumer they get furnished accommodations with the conveniences of home at a fraction of the cost of a hotel. It hasn’t seen the explosive growth of Uber but thus far it has cost the hospitality industry roughly half a billion dollars every year.

3. Netflix takes on the Cable Companies

There is no doubt Netflix has changed the way we watch TV, binge watching is now very much a thing. Not only are people opting to cut the cable cord in droves. For the first time cable companies are experiencing negative growth and that because of streaming services like Hulu, Amazon and Netflix. Netflix costs around $8 per month while cable subscriptions are somewhere around $80.

Netflix lineup has grown every year and now it produces its own programming that is as good if not better than network television. Despite not offering the extensive programming that cable does Netflix is slowing gaining ground on them every year. In addition to offering shows to binge watch there are documentaries and a long long list of movies to watch. You can thank Netflix for never having to pay a Blockbuster late fee ever again.

4. Self Driving Cars

While that technology is not quite here yet it will change the entire automotive industry. Tech giants like Google are trying to get self driving cars on the road by 2017, they have done test runs but are not quite ready for mass production. Think of the sheer volume of goods and people that are transported around every day, the costs and the environmental impact of doing that are huge. Self driving electric cars could drastically cut these costs. It will be interesting to see where this technology takes us.

5. Zillow/Trulia and the Real Estate Industry

Traditionally when buying or selling a home you got in touch with a realtor who gave you listings to look at if you were purchasing. If you were selling the realtor did an evaluation of your home and gave you an idea of a price to list it at. Now you can do all of this on your own sitting at your computer. Trulia offers a huge database of listings including the For Sale by Owner listings that realtors didn’t always have access to or wouldn’t show you because of the lack of commission. Zillow has its Zestimate feature which can give you a pretty accurate estimate of your home’s value. The two companies have since merged essentially offering you all the services a realtor performed without the 6% commission.

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