The Commercial and Cultrural Implications of Online Distribution

Alexander Michael Jacobs


While the reality of online distribution is not new, the continual advances in infrastructure have allowed this disruptive technology to encompass various media.  Online distribution allows for the precipitous and selective acquisition of media.  Online distribution has enormous positive potential for various people.  It allows for the free flow of information that can provide an individual with college level knowledge on any subject.  It can also introduce upstart artists and manufactures to individuals that would otherwise never be exposed to their products.  However, this technology presents serious implications for businesses associated with media distribution.  With its ability to give users unprecedented access to media, such as songs and books, online distribution enables the replacement of physical media all together.  This process can already be seen in the music industry and is on the precipice of occurring in both the gaming and book industries.  Additionally, online distribution introduces new concerns over copyright protection as it allows individuals to provide the products of others for all people to view and own free of charge.  This reality has forced many companies to institute policies to curb these acts of piracy that arguable hurt actual paying customers.  Perhaps most significantly, online distribution is beginning to change the culture of modern society.  As advances in bandwidth, compression algorithms, integrated devices, and even 3D printers allow for the distribution of ever growing and changing products, society will continue to shift from a materialistic culture to an ever more socialist culture.  This disruptive technology, while having enormous positive potential, may present negative implications to both commercial industries and commercial culture.  In this paper, I provide an overview of online distribution, present a logical framework that defines online distribution as a disruptive technology, and describe the potential negative implications to both the commercial industry and commercial culture.


Online Distribution; Disruptive; Innovation

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