Ten Companies The Internet Changed Forever

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Most businesses which operated before 1990 had to adapt quickly or be damaged, or even destroyed, as technology quickly evolved.

24/7 Wall St. looked at several industries and picked key companies in them to review how they adapted to the broadband world. These companies fall into three categories. The first are those for which the Internet was a logical extension of their existing enterprises. Netflix is an example of this. The second are those which were slow to adopt to the Web, but eventually made effective use of it. The New York Times and several other large content companies fall into this category. The last is companies which have never effectively made a transition and will probably not survive longer. Merriam-Webster is one of these. It has been replaced by websites that offer competing services for free.

Businesses that began online effectively flanked most of the firms on our list of Companies The Internet Changed Forever. Firms including Borders and Blockbuster fell by the wayside. Other companies adopted the best practices of  their online rivals.  For instance, the real estate industry started a listings site Realtor.com. Craigslist could have taken much of the house marketing business from realtors, but the group effectively found a way to maintain a relationship with customers. Realtor.com also gave home shoppers a more effective way to cut the time that real estate agents have to spend showing homes where buyers have no interest.

This is the 24/7 Wall St. list of Companies The Internet Changed Forever.

10. Netflix

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) revolutionized the video rental industry in 1999 by offering its rental-by-mail service.  The company has now changed the industry again, with its rapidly expanding video streaming service, which allows customers to instantly watch content on their computers or televisions over an Internet connection.  According to the company, more than a third of new subscribers are signing up for the “pure streaming plan,” and that percentage is expected to grow.  The company also states that “streaming is much bigger for [Netflix] than DVD, in hours of entertainment delivered, and streaming is growing much faster than DVD.”  Netflix.com is also the 44th most visited US site, with more than 27 million unique visitors in January, 2011 — a clear sign of streaming media’s growing popularity.

9. New York Times

Like the rest of the newspaper industry, The New York Times has experienced major declines in the circulation and advertising revenue of its printed paper. While some publications, like the Washington Times and Newsday have struggled to stay afloat, the Times’ parent company, The New York Times Company, has become a popular online brand. The New York Times has more than 71 million unique visitors to its properties, while the daily newspaper has only one millions subscribers. The portion of the company’s total revenue that is from online ad sales has gone from 6% in 2005 to 14% in 2009, and it is expected to continue to grow. While this is only a fraction of total earnings, there are far more viewers of the online publication than those of the print newspaper. It is expected that the Times will soon begin charging online subscribers $10-$20 per month.  It is still unclear whether the move will be successful, or will drive customers away.

8. Bank of America

In the past few years, online banking has gone from an added perk for select banks to becoming the modus operandi for most account holders for deposits, withdrawals, balance checks, payments, and most normal interactions that were once the main purpose of branch tellers. As proof of this, Bank of America’s (NYSE BAC) online site, which allows users to access their account, transfer funds, and even pay bills, has become one of the most popular sites on the web. BankofAmerica.com is currently, according to Comscore, the 48th most popular site on the web, with 25.4 million users in January of this year. Overall, 29 million of the bank’s customers currently operate online.