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Much of the reporting about Google’s driverless car has mistakenly focused on its science-fiction feel. While the car is certainly cool—just watch the video below about a 95%-blind man running errands—the gee-whiz focus suggests that it is just a high-tech dalliance by a couple of brash young multibillionaires, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
In fact, the driverless car has broad implications for society, for the economy and for individual businesses. Just in the U.S., the car puts up for grab some $2 trillion a year in revenue and even more market cap. It creates business opportunities that dwarf Google’s current search-based business and unleashes existential challenges to market leaders across numerous industries, including car makers, auto insurers, energy companies and others that share in car-related revenue.
Because people consistently underestimate the implications of a change in technology—are you listening, Kodak, Blockbuster, Borders, Sears, etc.?—and because many industries face the kind of disruption that may beset the auto industry, I’m going to do a series of blogs on the ripple effects that the driverless car may create. I’m hoping both to dramatize the effects of a disruptive technology and to illustrate how to think about the dangers and the opportunities that one creates.