Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Another Media Format says Farewell

After vinyl came the short lived eight-track but neither could compete with the cassette. Perfected by Philips and effectively given away by them the cassette was first introduced in 1963 and hit its peak in 1989 when 83 million sales of pre recorded tapes were sold.

Was it the compact technology or the Walkman that made this so successful? The answer is not simple as the media was indeed more portable, the walkman was the iPod of its day but probably more important it was the first real opportunity to create your own compilations and share them with your friends. It could store up to 40 songs. Also they were the first way that many could enjoy their own music whilst travelling in a car. 95 million blank cassettes were sold in the UK in 1990.
Now after 15 years of compact discs and latterly digital downloads the time is finally running out on the tape. Currys have now followed Woolworths and HMV in announcing that it will no longer sell tapes.

In the life of media it probably had a good run for its money but its decline in recent years has been marked. In 2000 music tape sales fell to 53 million, by 2005 this was 500,000 last year a mere 100,000.

Interestingly, audiobook tapes still sold 1.5 million units last year in a market that is less impacted by digital downloads today. However, as Currys and others phase out selling hi fi units that can play tapes and cars switch to CDRom and \MP3 docks as standard, it is easy to see the inevitable migration of audiobooks. The question is whether Audible will continue to enjoy their free run at the market and if DRM trends to relax control in music will cross to the book market?