Saturday, December 27, 2008


We used to talk fondly about Sony Walkman tapes, eight track tapes and the Betamax format. Now the eject button is being finally applied to the VHS tape that spawned the likes of Blockbuster. After some 30 years of service those black boxes are finally ending in the technology graveyard that beckons all in time. The video tape heralded a new era where Hollywood classics and latest releases could be rented and watched at home. It didn’t destroy but stimulated cinema and the movie market and in 2006 the last major Hollywood movie "A History of Violence" was released on VHS.

Not only did VHS transform movies enabling fast forward, pause and instant replay it also was the first real TV recorder enabling everyone to not miss that must see program.

VHS has now been taken over by the smaller and tidier DVD and recently this too has been threatened by the new upstart, Blu-ray. VHS rentals were overtaken by DVD in 2003 and by the end of 2005, DVD sales were over $22 billion whilst VHS had slumped to $1.5 billion. Kugler was the last major supplier who still managed to sell some 4 million VHS tapes over the last two years but finally called it a day in October this year. Many predict that the DVD will be obsolete in 3 years but the life expectancy of the Blu-ray is still in question.

So as owners slowly convert their libraries to new formats or buy again we witness once again the ridiculous library model that we have all grow up with. It doesn’t make sense in today’s high bandwidth, permanently logged on world to have to own media but we still do it. Why do we need to own ebooks, video tapes, music CDs and other media? Why not just rent on demand it would make a lot more sense.

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