Death of a media biz icon, as reported in today’s New York Times:
Nobody should be surprised by this one. Today, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection. They’ll remain in operation, but they plan to close most of their stores. They’ll go out with a whimper. My daughter will read about them in an economics or business class one day as an example of how changing conditions weed out companies that don’t evolve. Pretty impressive fall. And it represents one more nail in the coffin of physical media as a content delivery mechanism. For me the last 10-15 years have been amazing to watch as so many traditional business models and information distribution methods have changed. Most of us still can remember what it was (is) like to:
- Go to a store to buy a record album.
- Go to a store (or library) to get a book.
- Go to a store to have photographs processed and printed on paper.
- Go to a store to pick up a newspaper (or have it dropped on your front porch each day).
- Go to a store to buy a new video game.
- Go to a store to buy (or rent) a movie on VHS, DVD, etc.
The formats and delivery mechanisms for all these forms of content are evolving. If you are a content creator, processor, or distributor, and you aren’t evolving your business model to accommodate, you die. By the time my daughter hits elementary school I doubt there’ll be “movies on plastic discs stored on shelves” anymore. She certainly won’t have any idea what a “record store” is. Newspapers will be things she only sees at her grandparent’s house. Video games probably won’t be bought on discs or cartridges by then either. Cameras with film? She’ll read about those but never see one outside of a museum. The old fogey in me believes (hopes) that books will still be around for her, but everything else will be digital and online. RIP, Blockbuster. You did not evolve in time, and the late fees stacked up.