Video killed the radio star. Then last week came the news that video is dead, too. Electrical retail behemoth Dixons has said it will no longer sell video cassette recorders (VCRs) after the end of this year.
The company said DVD players are outselling VCRs so comprehensively (about 40 to one, after sales of DVD players grew seven-fold in the past five years) that there is little need to stock them any more.
Although Dixons is the only major chain so far to have made this decision, the announcement is likely to create a domino effect, with other retail outlets following suit within the next year or so.
And so the video cassette will join the audio cassette as just another well-loved, well-used, overtaken piece of technology.
But if Dixons and other electrical manufacturers, retailers and suppliers believe the DVD will save the day, then they are backing the wrong horse. Lessons need to be learned from the plight of the music industry.
Cassettes are no longer widely available in shops, and CD prices are dropping as a result of online sales. Even CD sales are down by 31 per cent, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
The reason for all this, of course, is that people no longer need the CD. They are simply downloading the music onto their PCs, laptops and iPods. Apple announced in March 2004 that its iTunes store had reached 50 million downloads, while illegal downloading continues at a furious pace.
For the DVD the future is already written. For consumers it means the end (eventually) of physical storage devices. No longer will we need CDs; no longer will couples argue over which DVD to rent for the evening.
Everything will be downloaded via the TV or PC, directly into the living room. Microsoft, Intel and a plethora of other vendors are already touting Media PC technology, while Sky Plus already enables users to create their own TV channel.
It is only a matter of time before the DVD and the CD, like VHS and Betamax before them, hear the Grim Reaper knocking.
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