Just as print media seems to be on its last legs, new companies are reinventing its essential elements into profitable new business models - even the old-fashioned wire story has been re-imagined by BuzzFeed. That got us thinking about other businesses that are making new money out of old ideas.
Professional photographers often decry the filtered-food-gazing of Instagram, but this article harkens Instagram’s success back to an earlier photographic disruptor: the Kodak Brownie. The introduction of the Kodak Brownie camera in 1900 gave inexpensive, easy-to-use photography to the general public for the first time, and spawned the obsession that Instagram later cashed in on.
Busting out your iPad to read the latest blogs and online news on your morning commute is a modern phenomenon, right? Think again. The thirst for mobile content can be traced back as far as the Victorian steam era, where content was designed for people on the move and books were specially-created for travellers - with removable sections and strip-by-strip printing that presented information as location-based, twitter-like updates.
Apple may be the big name when it comes to today’s tech and lifestyle market, but their successful ethos harks back to an earlier U.S. pioneer. This Wired article highlights how the computer giant’s ideology of matching technology and design has direct parallels with Polaroid’s success in the 70s - and how Apple has become the richest company in the world by following the camera-maker’s lead.
The frustration of condensing that witty joke into 140 characters isn’t a uniquely 21st century phenomenon -- in the late 19th century, cheap telegrams were often limited to 150 characters, and people adopted elaborate means to condense their complex ideas down to the essential elements. Imagine if Twitter hadn’t just adopted the telegram idea, but the entire business model - would you pay Twitter to get a few extra characters?
80’s giant Atari have already made their fortune on addictive 8-bit games, and now in the age of mobile, they think that they can do it all over again. With forthcoming mobile titles including rebooted nostalgia-laced classics such as Rollercoaster Tycoon, Outlaw and Centipede, this really is a case of old ideas earning brand new money.
Think there’s a great example we’ve missed of a historical business idea being recreated for today? Hit us up in the comments or on Twitter. And have a great weekend!