Sometimes you’re just making buggy whips. If, even in hindsight, Blockbuster’s only real move was “become Netflix before Netflix became Netflix,” it’s pretty evident that they were screwed. And of course it wasn’t just Blockbuster. Most of the big chains are long gone, and the last holdout just closed the last of its stores.
And while it sucked for Blockbuster, disruptive innovation is a good thing. As a consumer, I benefited in the following ways:
- In the short-run, I got to enjoy Blockbuster’s unlimited rental service, which was only created because of external pressure from Netflix.
- In the almost-as-short-run, Blockbuster (and Hollywood Video) started selling used DVDs on the cheap, I guess as they worked to have higher turnover in their store to compete with the Netflix catalogue.
- In the mid-run, Netflix and its competitors began slowly strangling the cable television conglomerates to death, which I approve of out of principle.
- And it took a while, but the inevitable fragmentation of the streaming markets is creating affordable “a la carte” menus for content, especially if you have a circle of family/friends that you share logins with.*
If Blockbuster was the chicken on the altar that we needed to summon streaming media, I’m cool with it.
*while of course adhering to the specific ToS agreements of each streaming service