Blockbuster Files for Bankruptcy – Evolution of our Digital Age?

Blockbuster founded in 1985 seems to have been part of my life for as long as I can remember, ever since my parents purchased a beta max video player in the 80’s instant access to movies became a normal regular event.

Of course, our beta max days didn’t last long – with frequent searches at the back of the video store for that not-to-be-found latest blockbuster in beta max format fruitless the world soon transitioned to VHS. That’s despite the experts telling us beta max provided for superior  sound and video!

Has the same thing now resigned blockbuster with it’s for-hire videos and DVDs to the dark ages?

Not quite, in reality VHS won due to its strong brand – customer choice was taken away as suppliers stopped producing beta max products. With blockbuster the introduction of online films and on demand set top boxes has added to consumer choice – not replaced it…

… yet. Sure, online and on demand video content is convenient and in time will become the dominant platform however I believe it will be sometime before we see DVDs dropped. There’s something about being able to pick up a DVD when you’ve exceeded your broadband bandwidth quota for the month or when you want to give a film as a gift.

What I want in 2010 is a supplier that offers both physical and online movie content, maybe even as a one off price for a film in both formats – the trouble with blockbuster, huge brand on the physical side but slow brand to take off on the online front. I guess today’s quick to market online world just gives that edge over slower moving traditional companies – if they’d got it right though they could have had the best of both worlds.

It’s interesting that with the introduction of DVD we re-purchased our old Beta Max / VHS films and now again with the introduction of blue ray. The future? Re-purchasing the same content as online suppliers fold and the digital encryption keys used to manage the digital rights management our content is encrypted with start to expire… imagine if your loose your front door key but the key supplier is no longer able to cut keys specific to your lock – time to buy a new house? Yes, an extreme analogy but its a worrying thought!

Blockbuster – Company Overview
Bloomberg – Blockbuster Files for Bankruptcy After Online Rivals Gain
Reuters – Blockbuster seeks turnaround in bankruptcy
Gigaom – Will All Brick & Mortar Media Sink Like Blockbuster?

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