...as one Viacom executive told me, "Blockbuster will certainly not survive and it will not be missed." It is another zombie in Hollywood. (Slate)
There are a lot of things to hate about capitalism, but the one thing that I love, love, love about it is its Darwinian nature. The fact that one moment, a company can be the absolute shit, stomping over competitors and alienating customers with lousy customer service simply because they can, and the next moment, being completely driven out of business by someone hungrier and smarter.
When I first moved to the DC area as a kid, there were no Blockbuster Videos. Aside from the soon-to-be-extinct mom and pop stores, there was only Erols Video. For all intents and purposes, Erols was Blockbuster. Same layout, same selection, but amazingly, even more arrogant. See, Erols wasn't just satisfied having a virtual monopoly on the local video rental market. They wanted to shake out every last dime from their customers. That meant charging monthly membership fees for the privilege of renting movies from them. You could even buy a lifetime membership for a few hundred dollars.
You can probably figure out what happened next: Blockbuster swept into town, and before too long, Erols was swept out. (Although, not before doing away with the membership fees in one last desperate move to stay afloat, which no doubt really pleased those "lifetime members").
And now, Blockbuster is going under as well, due partly to their outdated business model, and partly because of arrogance and lousy customer service. (Here's my Blockbuster story: I was once accused of not returning Body Shots, and received a bill for $80. I called up to complain, and the girl who answered the phone said they had a line out the door, and couldn't talk to me. This was at two o'clock on a weekday. They were mysteriously busy the next couple of times I called, also. Anyway, they had to wait until their next inventory before clearing me, and even then, they never bothered to tell me that they'd found it, let alone apologized. Like anyone would want to keep fucking Body Shots. Idiots.)
So Blockbuster ate Erols and now Netflix is in the process of eating Blockbuster. And no doubt, Netflix will grow fat and complacent, and in ten years, when we can just download a movie straight to our TV or iPod in five seconds flat, and the idea of having to wait two days for a DVD to arrive in the mail seems like a huge inconvenience, someone will eat Netflix. And in fifty years, when we all have cybernetic implants and can store movies in our brains, that company will get eaten. And in a hundred years, the apes will have taken over, and none of it will matter.