Over the past 3-4 years I've been watching massive changes take place in the marketplace. Some people see them, some people don't. Unfortunately, many people still act as if these institutions will go on forever. They actually disagree with me (even though they admit that the institutions are in severe decline) and come up with fanciful scenarios that somehow resurrect their position. So without further ado, here are my predictions that will change YOUR LIFE. (this is a long one - be patient!)
Let's start out with an easy one first. Ever since the first iPod, the writing has been on the wall with these stores. They originally handled the move from records to CD's back in the 80's easily, but now with the advent of much cheaper and faster access to music, their time is running out. As each new generational year becomes avid music listeners and purchasers, they turn more to digital and less to more expensive, less selection, and location-based stores.
The last store I went to (Cutler's in New Haven - a wonderful example of a great music store) had cut their real estate and selection in half. In addition, they had increased their inventory of DVD movies, small gifts, and iPod merchandise.
Prediction: I give this industry five years or less.
Movie Purchases & Rentals
This includes location based stores like Blockbuster and mailed-based companies like Netflix. Let's be honest — Blockbuster is toast. They have been making missteps for years now. And Netflix has been jabbing a shiv in their side to do it. Compare outrageous late fees versus renting the movie for as long as you like? It's not even fair.
Now Netflix is harder. They have a great service, incredible selection, and a broad business model. Ultimately though, the idea of mailing and receiving DVD's will become cumbersome in the light of digital transfer over the web (like they have started to do already). It's just a matter of time when they mail less and less and less.
Finally — DVD sales — it's already started. I was in Walmart the other day and saw that they cut down their DVD sales area and increased their "digital appliances" area. Most of their DVD's are at $5, in alignment with Blockbuster who is selling 5 for $20. These are the death-throes for DVD's. I don't think Blu-Ray will make a huge dent either - people are staying on the sidelines for that one too (I am).
Prediction: 2 years (Blockbuster, rentals) and Netflix mail delivery (4 years). DVD's as a format should take no more than 5-7 years to disappear.
Newspapers & Magazines & Books
This is an easy one - they are dying as we speak. If you can't get a magazine subscription for less than $10, you haven't looked very far. Newspapers are so small — advertisers are running away in droves - classifieds are gone (that was 30-50% of their revenue). The whole idea of printing, distributing, and selling paper when I have an iPhone, iPad, and MacBook - it's crazy. It's yesterday's news (catch this great Daily Show spot) that is being quickly supplanted by digital and video counterparts.
Think of students carrying the iPad - not lugging around all those textbooks. Businesspeople on planes and trains. Vacationers by the pool (whoops - maybe they'll have a waterproof one!).
Kindle. Ubook. iPad. Books . . . buh-bye! Which leads us to Bookstores . . . buh-bye! Which leads us to Publishers . . . buh-bye! What? Publishers too?
New paradigm - authors hire editors to edit their book. The better the editor, the more expensive the service. No publishers. By the way - the idea that publishers actually 'market' the book - don't make me laugh. They only marketed it in bookstores — and oh yes, they are going away. Authors can build a bully pulpit on social media. Just like Abbey Ryan has done for her paintings on eBay. Check her out.
Prediction: Newspapers - 3 years; Magazines - 5 years; Books & Publishers - 10-12 years
Video Games (sold in stores on disc)
Akin to CD's and DVD's - their time is also short. My family are already downloading games on our iPhones (Madden football) - hopefully the iPad will accelerate the whole process. They've always been overpriced - and companies like GameStop are marketplace rip-off artists who take advantage of kids and willing parents. Hope to see them go ASAP.
Prediction: 5 years
This is a tough one to write — but I will anyway (I'm going to hell for this one).
Have you been to a library lately? I rest my case. All kidding aside — libraries are wonderful centers of knowledge — but isn't our home or office computer a center of knowledge too? How many times have you gone to the library to find a book and it's just not there? You can place a hold on it, the person doesn't bring it back for decades, and when it finally does come back and they alert you — and your interest has waned. Libraries have tried to keep up — they've added videos and music and events and cappuccino and still these institutions are desolate (okay - there are some that do pull in the kids - but then they've turned into child care centers). You'll only find the errant senior citizen, transient, or unemployed worker. That's it.
And they cost a pretty penny to build, renovate, staff and run. MILLIONS of dollars. Add that most towns have multiple libraries coupled with every school having a separate library too and you are talking serious adult dollars here.
What would happen if everyone had an iPad? And the town digitized all books for "rental"? You can watch movies and music and do research (most good research today is also digital). Maybe the town invested in free wi-fi broadband for the entire town?
Prediction: 10-15 years tops
I know some of these predictions and assumptions might be way off - and there will be stragglers - but it's fun to put it out there and start a dialogue. So please let me know how you feel!