We’re used to discussing Porter’s 5-Forces, and particularly the one where substitute products and services appear and displace traditional forms. MP3 files replacing CDs and other physical media is a classic example. But here’s a lovely example of newer technology creating more demand for traditional methods. Apparently there’s a shortage of typeface symbols commonly used in the digital world, such as ‘@’ and ‘#’. Printers using letterpress printing use characters made from wood, or more usually metal, and these special characters were rarely used before e-mails (1971) and Twitter (2007) came along. Apparently, ‘@’ entered the English language in the eighteenth century as an abbreviation for “at the rate of.” The result is new business for the artisan craftspeople who manually create the pieces of type to replace the ones that wear out though such common usage. Perhaps another example is the demand for plastic or leather folders which must have rocketed for the protection of iPads and the like. I wonder which is more profitable for Apple? It reminds me that the people who made most out of the Gold Rush were the ones who made the shovels!