Software will eat the $1.2 trillion apparel industry

August 28, 2014, 12:38 PM UTC

Expanding on Mark Andreessen’s observation that “software is eating the world,” Asymco’s Horace Dediu took a close look Thursday at the industry he believes is next: Apparel.

Already, he writes,

Software has ‘eaten’ large portions of entertainment (e.g. Pixar, iTunes, video games), telecommunications (iPhone, Android, Messaging), various professions including journalism, management and law, and is entering transportation, energy and health care and poised over banking, finance and government.”

Apparel, he believes, is a $1.2 trillion industry ripe for disruption.

This amount of money is not spent only to protect the wearer from the elements — any more than the money spent on telecommunications is spent to convey vital information. Most of the value in apparel, perhaps 80%, is spent on solving psychological needs.

“And therein lies the opportunity. As the value is beyond functional, substitution of psychological jobs by new products is a matter of engineering better solutions. Consider the behavior of US teens: anecdotally, their spending on apparel is fading as the solution to feeling good about themselves increasingly relies on a device and service. Already, in this context, apparel retail is in crisis while buying shifts to devices.”

“To know who’s already planning for this,” he concludes with a sly reference to Apple, “you can follow the trade news on the hiring of talent.”

LINK: Apparel is next

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at or subscribe via his RSS feed.