Is on-line the end of off-line? When we see legendary book stores like “Borders” closing and virtual stores like Amazon soaring to new heights, people can make this false assumption.
Just like Internet was never the end of Television as a medium, online is not the end of off-line. In fact, the future is a sort of hybrid, a mutually beneficial and dependent co-existence at times. In that future, online firms will complement their online existence through off-line activities. And ofcourse, brick and mortar firms will go virtual to open up a new source of targetting customers.
A classic example would be how E-Bay is using off-site pop up stores/acts to drive traffic to its website.
An interesting phenomenon about online firms is the difficulty in categorizing them. A few years ago Amazon was an online book store, Apple was a computer maker, and Google was a search Engine. But Amazon is now into tablet manufacturing and content providing. Apple if at the forefront of defining digital revolution through i tunes, i pod, i phone and i pad. And Google is an omnipresent force in handsets, cloud computing, music store and software development.
This tells us that the classic way of defining boundaries for businesses no longer apply. Even more importantly, you cant really categorize who is your competition and who is not in a black and white manner anymore.