It’s 2010. One hundred years ago there probably were at least 2 companies that still made buggy whips. One of them probably made the finest buggy whip money could buy. The other probably made the least expensive, Wal-Mart version buggy whip.
As I grew up in the 1960’s & 70’s there was a business known as Fotomat that populated the parking lot of every shopping mall, plaza, and department store parking lots. Thanks to Polaroid, camcorders, and digital cameras, many of you have no idea what the hell I’m talking about.
Tonight my wife and I rented a movie. We had a choice of paying $4.00 for the movie at Blockbuster or paying $1.00 for it at a Redbox. While $3.00 difference is not very much money, I can buy both a pizza at the Dollar Tree and a 4 pack of beer at the Pick ‘n Save for a grand total of $3.00 for both.
The Red Box is located inside the Pick ‘n Save, which is right next store to the Dollar Tree. The Blockbuster is in the same plaza.
Guess where we got the video?
$4.00 total is a pretty good price for Grandma & Grandpa to get a movie and have a pizza with a couple of beers.
But by us and everyone else not renting at Blockbuster eventually it’s going to fold up (like many in this area have already done) and people will be out of work. When a door closes a window opens: there will be new jobs making/delivering those dollar store pizzas and servicing the Red Box, etc…
But at what point on the matrix will new products overlap the jobs it kills with the jobs it creates? Eventually there has to be a plateau in technology that leaves a significant population with nowhere to go, doesn’t there?
Or will what’s been happening forever continue to happen forever? Will something come along cheaper and more convenient than the Red Box? Will someone come along with beer that’s cheaper than $1.89 a four pack?
At what point will technology make consumer products so cheap that nobody can afford them because the same technology has put most people out of work?