The answer may be no. But hey, this is a blog, so why let reality get in the way of a post?I don’t have a history degree, so please correct me if I’m wrong. But, I can only imagine that pundits foretold of an unpleasant death for railroad companies when the automobile started looking like a promising alternative. Later, pundits likely saw the dawn of the airline travel as a worrisome development for automobile makers. I’m sure all these pundits would be surprised to learn that the largest railroad companies in North America are worth nearly 3x more than automakers and over 4x more than airlines.

North American Transportation Companies & Market Capitalizations (from Yahoo! Finance)

Railroads Mkt Cap $B Airlines Mkt Cap $B Automakers Mkt Cap $B
BNI 32.47 LUV 8.96 Ford 17.75
CNI 23.36 NWA 2.46 GM 11.54
CSX 22.61 AMR 2.40
CP 10.07 CAL 2.1
    JBLU 1.34
Total $88.51B Total $17.26B Total $29.29B

Yes, railroad companies now make the majority of their revenue from transporting goods vs. transporting people as they did in “the good old days”. That just means companies can evolve when market forces demand change.

What’s more, I’m sure someone is doing a PhD thesis showing that the addition of competition from an alternative mode of transportation helped to grow the overall transportation market.

In any case, don’t underestimate the resiliency of established market leaders. This is especially true when they’ve been given decades to study and respond to a disruptive trend as is the case with open source software.