What it is: An Ann Arbor startup had put one of the first self-driving cars on public roads.
The future is ride-sharing services and self-driving cars. Not surprisingly, one of the first actual uses of both have come from a startup called May Mobility. This company has put self-driving cars to work as shuttles along a limited stretch of road during hours when there’s likely to be less traffic and pedestrians. What’s crucial about this is that it’s not only one of the first actual uses of self-driving cars on actual roads, but it came from a new company rather than an existing company like General Motors or Ford.
Just look at all the revolutionary changes in life and none of them have ever come from existing companies that led their market. The Yellow Pages used to be the place to find information, yet Google took over this role. Montgomery Wards used to be the place to buy products by mail order, yet Amazon took over the mail order market. Kodak used to be the company dominating the film industry, yet digital photography wiped out their advantage and size.
Even Blackberry and Nokia dominate the smartphone market until the iPhone appeared. Microsoft dominated the small tablet market until the iPad appeared. So it’s no surprise that the companies most likely to benefit from self-driving cars and ride-sharing services will not be the Big Three auto makers or any traditional auto maker.
That’s good news for new companies to dominate this new market, which means Apple, Google, Tesla, and smaller companies like May Mobility will have a much greater chance of success than traditional auto makers. That’s because traditional auto makers will need to transition from selling cars to profiting form ride-sharing services and self-driving cars. Traditional auto makers can’t make this transition fast enough but newer companies, not currently in the auto industry, can do this easily. That spells doom for the traditional auto makers.
If you want to see where the next revolution will come from, don’t look at the existing leaders. Microsoft stumbled and lost the smartphone market to Apple and Google, Yahoo lost the search market to Google, Blockbuster Video lost the video rental market to Netflix. The only sure thing in the future is that the biggest companies in a market are the least likely to adapt rapidly enough to change.
So say good-bye to General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and other traditional car makers. When startups like May Mobility can put self-driving cars on the road to practical use far sooner than Ford or General Motors, that’s a clear sign that Ford and General Motors will move too slowly and thus get left behind smaller and nimbler rivals.
The next time you enjoy a self-driving car, chances are good it’s going to come from a company that didn’t even make cars just a year ago.