Whenever an innovation challenges the existing order or threatens entrenched interests, there is a natural tendency for those interests to run to government or to the courts seeking protection. Too often, they are successful in retarding the adoption of the innovation and slowing the pace of progress.
But these protectionist tactics never work in the long run. Innovation will eventually win.
This week we saw the U.S. Supreme Court essentially invalidate the business model of Aereo, an internet service that lets consumers livestream broadcast television signals to any Internet connected device without the need for a cable or satellite subscription. Never mind that television broadcasts are already free to anyone with an antenna. The ruling is based on a 38 year old law that never contemplated the advances in technology that make the service possible.
Similarly, Uber is fighting battles with multiple major municipalities around the country that are trying to protect the heavily regulated taxi cab industry. To think that smart phone enabled services will be permanently stopped by local governments is laughable. Innovation will win when consumers demand the convenience that these services offer. I have not taken a taxi in an Uber-served city in over two years. There is no comparison in the quality and ease-of-use in these services. Uber wins in a landslide.
MonkeyParking received a cease-and-desist order from the City of San Francisco earlier this week as well. I’ll let you go find out what this smart phone app does and judge the legality of it for yourself.
Each of these companies is doing something new and innovative that is bringing change to regulated markets that have been resistant to new ideas for decades. It is no wonder that they have grown rapidly. My bet is that if an innovation serves consumers and makes life a little bit easier, then it will find a way around the obstructionists. Keep fighting the good fight.