According to Mike Elgan’s article on computerworld.com, there are ten things that won’t survive the recession, most notably landline phones, pay-to-surf Wi-Fi, satellite radio, and a large number of retail stores.
I have my doubts particularly about the first three of these four (and I’m intentionally focusing on a subset of the full ten for the moment).
Let’s start with landline phones. Just about everyone has found it fashionable to say landline phones are going to be extinct Real Soon Now, or as Elgan says it, “only grandma still has a landline phone.” I do think fewer people will have landline phones, but I don’t think they’re going anywhere for quite some time. The only real change I see is that VoIP may start to replace analog service, better known to geeks as POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service). Landline phones are not just for the over 50 set; there is a reason that technology has been the primary way to make and receive telephone calls for most of a century. That reason is, landlines simply don’t drop calls. Way back in the day (back when AT&T was The Phone Comany), they dropped a few, mainly due to obscure technical problems like birds landing on phone lines a little too hard.
Pay-to-surf Wi-Fi will probably still hang on in certain places, though I would like to see it die the death it deserves. If anything I would think a recession would have an opposite effect, pinching the businesses just hanging on with free Wi-Fi into charging for it, something I would really hate to see happen. (I’ll probably revisit this one later.) $DEITY forbid, if ISPs ever start charging by the byte in any significant fashion, forget free Wi-Fi where the establishment gets their connection from such an ISP. That cost will be passed straight on to the end user.
Satellite radio? That’s barely gotten started, and has too large of an installed base to just up and crumble. The environmentalist in me cringes at the amount of e-scrap we will wind up with should the now-combined Sirius/XM bite the dust.
I don’t think retail will ever truly die. We may see a few stores here and there bite the dust (Linens N Things, CompUSA, some Circuit City stores), but there will always be room for the drive-down-to-the-store-and-get-it-now people to do just that. Let’s face it, UPS has taught us ground shipping can be fast, but it still isn’t that fast.
There’s another item in this list that I’ll visit, but my take on it needs its own post to really do it justice.