Self-service is growing across industries where consumers formerly faced high transaction costs, because of lackluster service, long lines, etc. Not to mention the fact that they cost less than even the lowest-paid illegal immigrant Wal-Mart style labor.
Of course, this begs the question: what competences are being eroded by self-service? Strategically, generic operational efficiency isn't a source of advantage, especially in the long run - because it's something competitors can easily imitate. Strategies based on efficiency are about difference: doing something uniquely and better, like Dell did 10 years ago (but not any more).
Linkages among value activities are crucial - and if anything, self-service destroys more linkages than it creates. A good strategy for players in the self-service market would be to build self-service platforms (not just machines), allowing firms to customize linkages between different upstream and downstream activities in the supply chain.
Number of Media Lab quotes in today's NYT: 2.