How Google’s cars promote music…and future competitors…
When a new process or a new technology emerges, it has effects that could not be anticipated by the people who originally developed the new process or technology.
Rather than using a technology example, I’ll use a process example – one that is ripped from today’s headlines (assuming that today’s headlines were actually printed on paper). In the past, the process of voting in the United States required a person to go to a polling place on a particular day and cast his or her ballot. In more and more cases, however, people are voting before so-called “election day,” and are not going to a polling place to do it. This caused an issue for the candidates, since their last-minute advertising on the day before the election would become less effective, since many people had already voted. The answer, of course, is to start airing those irritating campaign ads earlier and earlier, just to make sure that the candidates catch all of the voters before they vote.
Which brings us to self-driving cars, and some more thoughts from Tad Donaghe. If you ever read a blog, be sure to scroll down and read the comments that respond to and elaborate on the blog posts. One such comment, left by Donaghe, points out that his prediction of the re-emergence of online grocery stores rests on his other prediction of the increased use of driverless cars. Donaghe:
I think one of the leading causes of failures of previous grocery delivery systems has been the high cost and pain of delivery using human drivers.
The next time it’s attempted it will be based on robotic, self-driven cars. This will completely eliminate the human labor costs involved as well as human error (there weren’t many car-based GPS systems back the last time grocery delivery was tried).
To read the rest of Donaghe’s thoughts, go here.
This is one example of how a new technology – in this case driverless cars – can affect other industries. Recently on Google+, Donaghe speculated on another change flowing from the driverless car phenomenon – a lot of empty garages.
Many people will simply opt not to own a car at all. I think car “subscriptions” will become popular, where you’ll pay a set amount each month (for less than a typical car payment) for the use of any of a number of vehicles as needed. Other people will just share cars via car clubs.
It should be noted that this is already happening, especially in heavily urbanized areas and at universities. Even relatively small colleges are offering on-campus car subscription services for their students.
So what does this mean, according to Donaghe?
One of the results of this is that the millions of garages attached to homes around the country will suddenly no longer be needed for car storage.
Tad offers his specific predictions here about what will happen with these garages – he sees companies like IKEA getting a windfall.
But I wonder.
When I think about garages, I think about four uses.
First, there’s the traditional use that Tad mentioned on Google+ – garages can be used to store cars.
Second, there’s the other traditional use of garages – they can be used to store everything but cars. My garage, for example, includes a box containing thousands of drinking straws. I’m not kidding. Sometimes you can’t pass up those Costco deals.
But there are two other potential uses for garages, and if you can get the car out of the garage, and if you don’t have any junk in the garage, you’ll start seeing these.
One of these is musical. I’m sure that you’ve heard the term “garage band.” In the days before Apple (and a particular software program), the term referred to a band that would actually practice in a garage. So once mom and dad get rid of the car in the garage, the kids may claim the space and become the next Kanye West or Lady Gaga or whatever.
But there’s a fourth use for garages, and perhaps my mention of Apple reminded you of this fourth use. In the old days, Apple used to be called Apple Computer. They built computers. And when Apple Computer first started, they needed a place to build the computers. Being Silicon Valley residents, the company founders did what others had done before them. They went to the garage.
So, if Tad Donaghe’s prediction comes true and people get rid of the cars in their garages, I expect that we’ll see an increase in garage bands and garage companies.
Perhaps one of those garage companies will rise up and challenge current driverless car champion Google.
And one of those garage bands might write the soundtrack.