Don’t worry, I haven’t slipped back 10 years to the launch of the DVD.
I’m just thinking about the speed of change in technology and business – inspired by an incredibly depressing trip to my local Blockbuster rental store on Saturday.
Two rows of rentals, a few racks of bargain-priced pre-owned DVDs and games and a few new releases for sale.
And while I’m a huge advocate of making content downloadable online, and services which mail DVDs to your door (like Blockbuster, Lovefilm and Netflix), so that you can forage in the Long Tail, I couldn’t help feeling sad at how the rental store has declined.
It’s probably showing my age, but I remember a time before Blockbuster showed up. The first local video store was a real ‘mom and pop’ type shop, and had a tiny selection, but for a young film fan whose family had just got their first video recorder, it was amazing.
Then I experienced Blockbusters. So many films under one roof that my first trip was almost accompanied by the kind of golden glow you’d see in TV adverts as I wandered down every row, checking out every possible title vying for my attention (Something I’ve never quite kicked, which is why I tend to get left to browse in record shops, video stores and computer games emporiums – few friends and family members have to make sure that they’ve checked every possible option for entertainment).
Sadly, the decline has been noticeable for a while, probably demonstrated by the fact I hadn’t paid a visit to my local store in at least a year.
I’ve got films on Freeview (whoever first put adverts in the middle of films and live sporting events should be shot, by the way), I’ve got films on demand via my Xbox 360, and I’ve been a happy subscriber to Lovefilm. And that’s despite UK broadband speed and data limits meaning I’ve been a latecomer to downloading films via PC or Xbox (TV via iPlayer is another matter!).
I’m not saying that DVD rental shops should be saved for any reason – the only possible solution I could envisage keeping them going for a while would be a Print-on-Demand service to burn a DVD of any catalogued film for those who don’t yet have the bandwith – but that’s a stopgap on the way to extinction.
It’s just rare sometimes to hear anyone advocating a digital revolution/evolution admit that they might feel bad about the end of a dying medium, and without a rational explanation!