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Lesson Learned from the Demise of the Payphone


Twenty years ago, there were over 2,000,000 payphones in America.*

Today, the figure is closer to 100,000, and one fifth of those are in New York City alone.^

Once a necessity for people on-the-go, payphones began disappearing rapidly with the emergence of mobile communications. Payphone companies quickly followed.

So, did mobile communications kill payphone companies?

No, the payphone companies were responsible for their own deaths. They defined themselves by their product, not their customers’ needs.

Their product was replaced by a better (e.g. bigger, faster, less expensive) solution, like virtually every product at some point.

However, the customer need often remains the same. In this case, people on the move still need to connect verbally with others.

If payphone companies had viewed themselves in the person-to-person communication business, they may have been able to adopt the emerging technology and survive the demise of the payphone.

Do you define your business by a product or your customers’ needs?

*Source: Statista ^Source: CNN Business

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