The Internet has become an integral part of society since its commercial adoption in the 1990s. Users can find a vast amount of material online, including shopping, reading and socialization, but the benefits for users have also become the downfall for some business types. Bookstores, electronics stores, newspapers and photo printers have all suffered due to the Internet.
The growing popularity of online e-books has spelled trouble for brick-and-mortar bookstores. Large bookstore chain Borders filed bankruptcy and liquidated in 2011. Competitor Barnes & Noble still exists as of publication but has faltered in trying to compete with online retailer Amazon's low prices on physical books and hearty catalog of e-books. Barnes & Noble tried to directly compete with Amazon with the Nook e-reader, but the device failed to take off to the extent of Amazon's Kindle line. The company has since spun off Nook as its own division to keep the poor sales from further dragging down the company's earnings reports. Barnes & Noble 'sfiscal 2014 revenue was down nearly 7 percent compared with the prior year.
Brick-and-mortar electronics stores have fallen victim to a practice called "showrooming," which happens when shoppers go into the store to look at a device in person but then order from an online-only retailer for a cheaper price. An increasing number of customers head straight for the Internet when purchasing smaller electronics items or accessories such as headphones, chargers or radios. RadioShack's stock price began sliding down in 2012 as bankruptcy rumors swirled, and the company ended the following year with a quarterly net loss that had ballooned to over $400 million. The chain had seen the shopping tides turning and tried to reinvent from a general electronics store to a mobile phone center, but the move did little to change the down slope of business.
The newspaper industry has been hit hard by the rise in online reading since the companies make far more money from print advertising than from web advertising. The New York Times and other major newspapers have put up pay walls on their websites in an attempt to stem losses. Pay walls allow users to read a small number of articles online a month for free before requiring an online subscription to read unlimited content.
Digital cameras hurt the sale of camera film, and easy Internet sharing hurt photo printing companies. Eastman Kodak filed bankruptcy in 2011 after a strategic move away from camera film to digital camera products and printing failed to pay off. The company was able to move out of bankruptcy by selling patents but continues on with a narrowed focus on corporate clients.
- CNN: Borders liquidates: 10,700 jobs lost
- Barnes & Noble Booksellers: Fiscal 2014 Year-End Financial Results
- Technopedia: Showrooming Definition
- Neiman Lab: The newsonomics of The New York Times’ Paywalls 2.0
- Kodak: Eastman Kodak Company and Its U.S. Subsidiaries Commence Voluntary Chapter 11 Business Reorganization