Jeffrey Bonkiewicz

This is what happens when a market is pushed too far by imperial companies.

A classic case of an industry trying to force a market conform to it.

There is no more classic case of an industry trying to force a market to comfort to it than the cable industry. The cable industry was built upon bundling: bundling channels; bundling service lines; even bundling their fiber. In the early 80’s, few among us had cable. Then, with the rise of technology and the economic boom, people desired more choices in their entertainment offerings. They chose cable. The industry boomed well into the 90’s.

Cable industry giants shake in the face of Innovation and marketplace shifts.

Then, the 90’s brought further tech innovation, including high speed internet, offered to the lucky few in the mid-90’s. Those of us blessed enough to get it enjoyed speeds upwards of 3 Megabits per second (Mbps). If you enjoyed those speeds in 1996, you bragged to others, especially to those still suffering on dial-up AOL, CompuServe or Prodigy. So, the cable industry did what they always did: they decided to bundle the high speed Internet service with the cable TV service. They did this well. People bought and bought and bought. Cable industry profits were through the roof. These were heady times.

A little later, tech enhanced further and the cable companies were able to offer digital phone landline service as a part of their bundle. So, they had the triple threat: cable TV, high speed Internet, and phone service. Executives were joyous at this offering because of monthly fees they could charge people. It wasn’t one service. It wasn’t two services. It was three services they could offer both consumers and businesses. Look at your friend in the digital age! Look at what they do for you! They thought they had it right with only two services — now they had three! Yes! The cable industry’s salad days continue.

The Blackberry by Research in Motion had a great run. As did the company’s stock.

Then, technology evolved and enhanced further. In the early 2000’s, Research in Motion’s (RIM) Blackberry device brought email to our mobile devices. We were immediately hooked. While they resembled a brick and were nearly as heavy as one and were slightly cumbersome to use, this concerned us little. We had email on our phones! Email went where we went! Our phones followed us wherever we went! There wasn’t much need for a landline phone any more. We had our phone, no longer merely the phone. The age of personalized, digital, mobile devices was born.

We had our phone, no longer merely the phone.

It was around this time that a metaphorical Electromagnetic Pulse blew through the cable industry, whether they knew it or not. (They didn’t. They still don’t.) With our own phone, we no longer needed the phone. We brought our own phone with us wherever we went, rendering the traditional landline phone obsolete, barely noticeable any more. This bugs the cable industry to this day because they have had a product seeking a market for well over a decade. Even the elderly among us have cut their landline phone. There is simply no need for it. Not even for home security systems.

The landline phone — a rather lonely anachronism.

And yet the cable industry still forces this obsolete product on its markets! Being how this is the way we’ve always done things, it still bundles the dang landline phone with its cable TV and high speed Internet offering. As ridiculous and counterintuitive as it sounds, a customer can sign up for cable TV, high speed Internet and the dang landline phone for less money than one can get only the cable TV and high speed Internet! (That make sense to you?)

Worse for the cable industry, technology has again evolved and now people are actively cutting the cable cord in favor of high speed Internet exclusively. Uh-oh, Indy. It appears people got tired of forced, bundled TV channel offerings when they simply watched three or four of them. If only we’d have listened to our customers 15 years ago when they were telling us this and then maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess.

This is what happens when a market is pushed too far by imperial companies.

Have you ever asked anyone what they think of Comcast? Or, Charter? Or, Cox? Or, look out, Century Link? Vitriolic, bile-fueled remarks rule the day. To say people dislike them is a vast understatement. Cable companies are modernity’s used car salesmen. We’re not merely dissatisfied with them — we hate them. We despise what they represent. We severely dislike paying them monthly, especially for services we do not use. The brave among us have taken extreme measures of cutting them out of our lives entirely, banishing traditional cable and high speed Internet from our household in favor of personal hotspots for those on unlimited data plans. This is what happens when a market is pushed too far by imperial companies.

I’m a sales, marketing and tech Pro who creates content designed to help people solve problems and shift perspectives.