Channel, Channel, Who's Got The Channel?
Thinking back on the last fifty years, something popped out at me. The big changes in an industry come when there is a change in the type of distribution channel. As long as the channel stays the same, there is competition within it, but the big disruptions come when a different channel appears.
The classic story here is from Peter Lynch and is of course L'Eggs panty hose. Before that, stockings were sold in department stores and were pretty expensive. Then L'Eggs appeared in the supermarket and that killed the department store business. Other examples are watches moving from jewelry stores to department stores then down to discounters as they got relatively cheaper. Music sales has changed a bunch of course and so has movie distribution. Remember all those VHS tapes? Pretty much landfill now.
So what new channels are appearing on the horizon? One is using your smartphone for payments, not a credit card. Another is digital distribution of books. I think this is going to turn the textbook industry upside down. Paper newspapers are pretty much on the way out and will probably be gone in 20 years.
Another play might be to figure out what can't have the channel change out from under them. These might be pretty good, if bought cheap, because they won't be displaced. Water and gas distributors, probably power and content creators. People will still drink Coke and eat Doritos, because you can't download them.