Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Libraries and Blockbuster

on the future:

I think it is instructive to look at the battle between Netflix and Blockbuster. Blockbuster was firmly a bricks and mortar establishment, and very successful, penetrating deep in the neighborhoods, almost as ubiquitous as Starbucks.

Along came Netflix, and scooped up lots of customers who were too busy to go to a store. Blockbuster immediately (or sort of immediately) responded by setting up an online service to rival Netflix, and gained back some customers, but not all.

Hmmm. What advantages did Blockbuster have over NetFlix? Bricks and mortar! Immediate gratification. Once Blockbuster realized this and developed a program where users could either return videos through the mail or in a store (if it was Saturday night, and the video skipped/sucked/or had already been seen), they began to beat NetFlix at their own game. I am even considering switching although for some (probably programmed) reason, think NetFlix is the "better business".

Sounds like libraries vs. Amazon and vs all the other so-called competitive threats. Having a physical presence in a virtual world can be an advantage.

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