Four technology platforms forcing change to their industry

3 min read

Businesses that fail to innovate are at risk of going the way of the blacksmith and being usurped by smaller, more agile outfits. Here are four examples of little companies that have proven the theory.

1. Netflix
Netflix launched on 14 April 1998 based on “little more than a hunch”, co-founder Marc Randolph says. Randolph and his business partner Reed Hastings had been brainstorming ideas for two months, among the hundreds they toyed with was the concept of providing video rental by mail.  At the time video rental was still on VHS cassettes, too heavy, fragile and expensive to make the idea a reality. “It didn’t take much to realise this was a non-starter,” Randolph recalls. However, a few months later, Hastings heard about a test market taking place in San Francisco for a new technology called the DVD. Suddenly movie rental by mail seemed more plausible. The pair put their idea to the test and posted a music CD to Hastings’ home. “The next morning when Reed came to pick me up he didn’t need to say anything,” Randolph says. “He just held up this little envelope with an unbroken CD in it that had got to his house in less than 24 hours. We realised this might just be an opportunity.” Today, Netflix has over 100 million subscribers. “We make our own movies and TV shows and even have our own memes,” Randolph beams. “It’s the most amazing thing to me. I never believed Netflix would achieve the size, scale or influence that it has.”

2. Spotify
Following the rise of Napster and pirated music in the late 1990s, the music industry was struggling to find a viable model to contain the spread of illicit music sharing. Enter Spotify with its freemium subscription service to millions of songs. Since its launch in 2008, the platform has been revolutionising the monetisation of the industry and evolving consumer behaviour - with music streaming now predicted to generate $104 billion by 2030. More than 100 million customers use Spotify today, including 40 million subscribers who pay a monthly fee.

3. Apple
When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, it broke every rule. It was more expensive than popular handsets of the time, had no physical keyboard and was made by a brand known only for computers. But the iPhone changed our view of what a phone should be, in the process replacing the need for cameras, street directories, weather reports, desktop access to email and internet, and eventually, commandeering how we listen to music. Today more than 2 billion people use smartphones, and this number is only expected to grow.

4. Skype
Skype was founded in 2003, combining two existing technologies - peer-to-peer and VOIP technology - into a transformative new business model. Offering both free services such as voice and video calls as well as paid services including calls to mobiles and landlines, it has revolutionised the telco industry and now has over 300 million active users. Skype’s P2P framework enables encrypted and secure phone calls – which standard phone companies cannot offer. Combine this with high-quality audio and video and Skype has been able to successfully expand across both personal and enterprise level markets. 

Are you looking for a new way to build your wealth? You can take advantage of innovative leading edge technology now with BT Invest, giving you access to a range of investments and intelligent tools and expertise to help you easily set up, track and manage your investment portfolio, all in one place. Find out more.

Wellbeing 24 Apr 2017
Fail fast and fail often is a mantra oft-repeated in the world of Silicon Valley. And it’s one Marc Randolph believes in, having applied it to the development of his best-ever idea, Netflix.
2 min read
Wellbeing 08 May 2018
When it comes to investing, a lot of focus is placed on how much money a company makes. It can be just as valuable to know how a company makes its money.
3 min read
Solutions 08 Mar 2019
Invest how you want, when you want with a BT Invest expertly managed portfolio, or you may like to consider one of five managed portfolio options.

This information is current as at 06/04/2017.

BT Portfolio Services Ltd ABN 73 095 055 208 AFSL 233715 (BTPS) is the operator of BT Invest. BT Funds Management Limited ABN 63 002 916 458 AFSL 233724 (BTFM) is the issuer of BT Cash. Westpac Financial Services Ltd ABN 20 000 241 127 AFSL 233716 (WFSL) is the issuer of BT Managed Portfolios (together, the BT Invest Products). An Investor Guide is available for BT Invest and a PDS is available for BT Cash and BT Managed Portfolios and can be obtained by calling 1300 881 716, or online . You should obtain and consider the relevant disclosure documents before deciding whether to acquire, continue to hold or dispose of interests in the BT Invest Products.

BTPS, BTFM and WFSL are subsidiaries of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 (Westpac). Apart from any interest investors may have in Westpac term deposits or Westpac securities acquired through BT Invest, an investment in, or acquired using, BT Invest is not an investment in, deposit with or any other liability of Westpac or any other company in the Westpac Group. These investments are subject to investment risk, including possible delays in repayment of withdrawal proceeds and loss of income and principal invested. Westpac and its related entities do not stand behind or otherwise guarantee the capital value or investment performance of any investments in, or acquired through, BT Invest.

This information does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to your personal objectives, financial situation and needs having regard to these factors before acting on it.

This article may contain material provided by third parties derived from sources believed to be accurate at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, no company in the Westpac Group accepts any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of, or endorses any such material. Except where contrary to law, we intend by this notice to exclude liability for this material.