I recall a very exciting day back in the 80’s when my brother brought home one of decade’s high-tech gadgets – a VCR. I remember the ungodly size of the thing and the weight of the box it came in. It was hooked up to the Zenith console color TV and the first movie I recorded on it was Silver Streak with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.
The next day I rushed down to the local video store and bought a $50 membership that entitled me to rent moves for $3.99 each. I was given a gold colored plastic membership card that made me feel like I was a member of some elite club in Lower Slobbovia.
I can remember walking down the aisles looking for the latest releases then rushing home to pop the tape in the player while waiting for Orville Redenbacher to come out of the Amana Radar Range hot and steamy.
When the DVD player was introduced, magnetic tape began to disappear and the VCR was history. Blockbuster make the transition to DVD and continued to chug along until technology finally caught up with them and streaming video made it’s debut.
For the past several years it wasn’t necessary to hop in the car and travel to Blockbuster to rent a video. With services like Netflix delivering DVDs right to your door, practically next day, the pressure was on the blue boys to keep up. Blockbuster launched their own mail order DVD rental business, but was once again defeated by technology – mainly streaming video.
With our televisions, DVRs, iPads and iPhones connected to the Internet every second of the day, it’s now possible to watch the latest Steven Seagal flick from the comfort of our bedroom or congested airport departure lounge.
Netflix recently announced that their DVD by mail service will soon be phased out and they will only offer their streaming video service. Blockbuster, on the other hand, wasn’t able to adapt quickly enough and amassed debts upwards of $1.4 billion and has filed for Chapter 11. As part of its restructuring, the company has gone up for auction and is available to the highest bidder.
Things happen like this every day in the world of commerce. This one caught my attention due to the history and memories of 80’s tech that brought the company into the spotlight then and again now. It’s a perfect example of how businesses based on technology need to be nimble and able to adapt quickly to the changing world around them in order to survive.
After all, in this fast-paced world we live in, there’s no time to rewind.