Failing Business Models

Over here there is a discussion on whether or not Blockbuster Video is headed towards extinction. Then today I noticed that I haven’t written a physical check in over 6 months, and started wondering about check-printing companies going tits-up. As the old folks die off, will anybody actually write a check for a purchase anymore?The business world is constantly in flux, and the rate of change is getting faster every year. What other businesses are in for a long slide into oblivion because of changing technology and application thereof? And why?

I suspect that brick-and-mortar record (CD) stores are going to fail because recorded music has become compressed and downloadable, transferrable and copyable. No amount of copyright protection prevents it from happening (yet).

There is no reason for any store to keep a large stock of old music on CD, because you can get a CD of nearly everything ever recorded from somewhere online, and not pay tax. And there is a decreasing need for them to keep a large stock of new music, because much of it is offered on iTunes, and the legal Napster, and from both record label websites and artists’ websites. The time will soon be upon us when it costs more money to outfit a store and pay a staff than is feasible, if the company wants to make a profit.

Now, it’ll be a shame on the day when you can no longer buy full-resolution recorded music in an uncompressed format, but it isn’t here yet.

Not technology-related, but I heard an NPR story today about how wigmakers in the UK are up in arms about the possibility that the courts might abandon the practice of having lawyers and judges wear wigs. Apparently, a good judge’s wig costs about $5000 (or pounds, I forget which.) The judges may resist, though, because some like the fact that wearing a wig makes them less recognizable on the street.

Not just CDs, but videocassettes (already on the way out) and DVDs, as well as the players, recorders, etc. for them. Eventually we will receive all our entertainment digitally and store it on hard drives.

The U.S. Post Office and traditional snail mail. Packages will still have to be sent, probably through private companies like UPS/FedEx, but eventually e-mail should replace all written material sent through the mail.

Traditional landline phone service will probably eventually disappear as well. Many of those same companies are already moving into the wireless market, so they won’t die, they’ll just have a completely new business model.

Back to checks, I was at an AP Econ conference last week and there was a guy there from the Dallas Fed. He said the Fed was in the check-clearing business not so much to do so competitively–because there are entirely private check-clearing companies–but so that SOMEONE would still be in the industry once all the private companies disappeared and grandma is still writing checks. They recently had to lay off several people in the check-clearing department because they just haven’t got the volume they used to have, leaving people who have insanely good security clearances but a rapidly-becoming-obsolete skill set.

I used to regularly buy computer software from Egghead Software, which was a chain of computer retail stores. Today, there are few, if any, stores that specialize in software (unlike Staples, Office Max, Best Buy, etc. which sell software along with other stuff).

Print journalism is struggling to modify its business model to compete with the Internet. Of course, before now, it struggled to compete with television, and before that, radio, so I think it’ll survive in some form. 'Course, I’m biased, since it’s what I’m getting a degree in.

Print journalism will still be around, but it probably won’t be delivered on paper for too much longer.

There’s another thread around here somewhere about how Toronto’s most famous music store, Sam the Record Man, has closed. If you can’t keep a record store with a famous name open in the middle of a metropolis of five million people, I think that quite nicely proves your hypothesis.

That day will never come, in all likelihood, because the cost of portable storage media is dropping. In the not too distant future you won’t have to compress recorded music into MP3s to make it practically portable.

I disagree about the U.S. Post Office. For the foreseeable future there are certain things that I think society will be mailing, while I can see all of them being phased out, I think it will be a long time from now:

-Many government-to-citizen documents. Stuff like notices that you owe parking tickets and et cetera.
-Mass mail advertising (local business coupons and et cetera)
-Certain key legal documents (leases and et cetera)

For that matter I think certified mail will exist until well after I’m dead, just because for certain people/situations you need that sort of service.

Magazines don’t seem to be dying. The U.S. Post Office still handles tons of magazines every week.

I also don’t see them getting pushed out of the parcel business by UPS/FedEx. The Post Office actually has a large segment of the parcel market (at least for the size/weight of parcels they mail, I do believe the U.S. Post Office has a maximum parcel size/weight that, once exceeded, you have to go to UPS or FedEx.)

Also, to a degree the internet revolution has contributed to new business for the Post Office. NetFlix is handled by the Post Office, not UPS/FedEx. Likewise, many shipments from are handled by the Post Office as well. In general the USPS seems to offer the best prices as long as you don’t need to have the package within 2 days.

The "internet’ is still in the “model T” stage of cultural and social involvement… Its really only been around for less that 15 yrs, for the majority of users. Yes, it has become ubiquitous in many forms, but the forms are still models of previous modalities (e-mail as a substitute for snail mail).

Give it (the technology) 3 or 4 generations…It will evolve and create its own unique forms… Right now it is still a “horseless carraige” ( model of something superimposed on an existing form)

It will be a wild ride, and those of us young enough to be here 40 yrs from now will look at the stuff we do on the internet as today’s old timers look upon party lines and crank telephones/crystal radios…


CD stores are failing because they charge 18.99 for a CD. Major chains like Tower Records, Blockbuster/Wherehouse Music did this, and were surprised when they were quick to go tits up. Quick to blame the internet, too.

Local shops have an excuse at least, they can’t buy media in bulk, so they can’t compete with nationwide electronics shops or megamarts that have a music section. They mostly deal in secondhand now, though. Anywho, the chain record stores chose to fail rather than adapt, or even drop the base price of a CD. Even older ones were 18.99. I wish I was exaggerating.

It was still depressing to move to a town that has no record store to speak of. It’s all bloody chains here.

I think this thread is perhaps a little too US-focused.

People here in Australia do not, by and large, use cheques for anything anymore. Businesses still use them because it’s easier to keep track of where money is going, but normal people do not use them to pay for groceries etc*. (Before you ask, most people use cash/EFTPOS/Credit Cards to pay for stuff, and bills can be paid either at the post office or by phone banking).

Similarly, on-line shopping isn’t big here, either. People like going to physical stores and buying things. I can’t see that changing anytime soon, despite the presence of eBay et al. People like having things now, not in 5-12 working days.

CD stores here have diversified into DVDs as well- again, they’ll be around for quite some time as well, IMHO.

*I’m sure at least one Aussie poster will come in here and claim they still use cheques for personal transactions. This is why I say “most” people here do not use them. By the way, feel free to join us in the 21st Century. :wink:

Canadian here, and I do still use cheques, at the rate of 12 a year, to pay my rent. I imagine at some point landlords may switch to electronic fund transfers, but as long as all the ones I’ve encountered stay firmly in the 20th century, I’m much happier with keeping some cheques on hand as opposed to paying my rent with a big wad o’ cash.

If we look at news delivery as a business model I am not sure what the future holds for Traditional Network Broadcast News - but I would be surprised if it was a bright and rosy one. If you are in the U.S. and older than 25 You know the drill: 6:30, 7:00, 7:30 local time a Network Anchor, usually from New York but sometimes at THE SCENE delivers you a recap of the days news in 3 minute bites for a half an hour.

Certainly already we can say they don’t drive the news cycle the way they did in 1987, Certainly we can say network news attracts approximately half the viewers it did 2 decades ago - 1/2 the viewers in a much larger country - and certainly we can say that the demographic of the audience who watches the network newscasts “skew old”.

I think the days of Dan Rather-Jennings-Brokaw-Huntley-Cronkite are gone in relevancy even if some how sort of surprisingly the shows still survive today, sorta like movie where a suddenly decapitated body continues to take a few steps before falling down. I would be surprised if such shows were still extant in 2027.

Both judges and barristers will keep wearing wigs in criminal trials, but neither will wear them in civil trials anymore. Also the judges’ official wardrobe is being reduced from 4-5 robes to one. AKAIK this only effects those in England and Wales, Nothern Irish and Scottish court dress is unchanged. BTW what happens if a judge refuses to go along? Can they be removed from office for insisting on wearing a wig?

Ah, but do they have a wig for their wig? Perhaps a brain for their heart?

Address labels.

In the 1980s and 1990s, among with the piles of coupons and advertising inserts that would fall out of a Sunday newspaper, there was always an ad, or even an entire insert, for pre-printed address labels.

This past year, I got free address labels in mailings from my auto insurance company, the Ohio Democratic Party, The National Arbor Day Foundation, and several other organizations in thier fund raising solicitations. With all those free address labels pouring in, I wonder who actually pays for them anymore.

Newspapers - I am not saying they won’t exist but they definitely deserve the title of a failing business model. The concept of regular news once a day and a big expo issue on Sunday is entirely artificial and their own creation. Web news sites mostly abandoned that entirely with good success so far and probably more later. The blue chips like the New York Times and the Boston Globe are already taking hard hits and there is no reason to think this won’t continue without radical changes.

I also nominate the idea of the Postal Service going away as the big nutter idea of the week. That idea was promoted years ago and the opposite came true. It sits right alongside the idea of the “paperless office”.

I believe Western Union formally discontinued the transmission of telegrams about a year ago. There was no longer any market for them.