Prediction: Blockbuster Bites the Dust

I’m not a member of NetFlix. Nor Amazon, Walmart, or any other online video rental service. In fact, I’m technically still a Blockbuster member. But only the in-store membership. And yet, I’m convinced that 2008 could be the last year Blockbuster survives.

Already, Blockbuster is toying with kiosk ideas, trying to figure out its way, and some analysts point to Netflix’s success as directly creating some of Blockbuster’s misery.

But I don’t think so. Here’s why Blockbuster will leave the country littered with vacant video stores.

One big reason: Inconvenience. You can get movies “On Demand” from your local cable provider - for the same prices as Blockbuster. You can get movies for dirt cheap (to own) from Walmart, where you are every week anyway.

But, Netflix and a half-dozen other companies now offer instant downloadable movies to your computer. Well, granted there is a huge segment of society that don’t have fast enough connections, or big enough screens to watch a movie on their computer.

But that is changing - very rapidly.

Moreover, it is only a matter of months before Netflix and the others come out with a device, similar to a DVR, that you can purchase (or perhaps free with a paid annual membership), that will load movies via a navigable TV interface (via the web) over your wireless network, onto this hard-drive type device.

In fact, the real race is between Netflix and the cable companies. Blockbuster isn’t even a factor at this point. They’ve made consistently poor decisions for years and trying to salvage the “Rent a Physical DVD” model through some method of kiosks. It won’t work.

With gas at over $3/gallon, I’ll always prefer home delivery, especially home instant digital delivery. In fact, I almost wonder if the physical storage medium of DVD’s are going to die very soon, too. Just like CD sales have fallen over the years.

I have a whole shelf of CD’s which, quite realistically, I could throw away.I have digital full-quality copies on two separate hard drives. I suppose they both could fail, but I could even do more backups, all without acquiring any additional weight or storage space in my home, and with far more immediate access.

Once I acquire an iPod, I think I’ll really have no reason at all to keep them anymore. But, I can say for sure that I haven’t had much reason to go to Blockbuster the past year.

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