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kottke.org posts about blockbuster

When strengths become weaknesses

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 13, 2010

Using Blockbuster and Netflix (and Redbox) as an example, James Surowiecki writes about how big incumbent companies can lose out to smaller upstarts.

The problem — in Blockbuster’s case, at least — was that the very features that people thought were strengths turned out to be weaknesses. Blockbuster’s huge investment, both literally and psychologically, in traditional stores made it slow to recognize the Web’s importance: in 2002, it was still calling the Net a “niche” market. And it wasn’t just the Net. Blockbuster was late on everything — online rentals, Redbox-style kiosks, streaming video. There was a time when customers had few alternatives, so they tolerated the chain’s limited stock, exorbitant late fees (Blockbuster collected about half a billion dollars a year in late fees), and absence of good advice about what to watch. But, once Netflix came along, it became clear that you could have tremendous variety, keep movies as long as you liked, and, thanks to the Netflix recommendation engine, actually get some serviceable advice. (Places like Netflix and Amazon have demonstrated the great irony that computer algorithms can provide a more personalized and engaging customer experience than many physical stores.) Then Redbox delivered the coup de grace, offering new Hollywood releases for just a dollar.

From Scott McCloud, here’s Blockbuster’s new logo.

We Work Remotely

For the next fours years, any film

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 19, 2006

For the next fours years, any film released by Weinstein Co. will only be available for rental at Blockbuster (and especially not Netflix). What a stupid deal. I wonder what the filmmakers think of this, which will effectively limit the reach of their films (despite the positive spin Blockbuster and the Weinsteins want to put on this).

Edward Jay Epstein examines where it all

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 11, 2006

Edward Jay Epstein examines where it all went wrong for Blockbuster Video. Blockbuster had an opportunity to have rental pricing for DVDs like they did with video, but they turned the deal down and the studios priced DVDs for retail instead and have been minting money with that scheme ever since.

There’s a rumor that Blockbuster may stop offering online rentals

posted by Jason Kottke   May 13, 2005

There’s a rumor that Blockbuster may stop offering online rentals. The folks at Netflix must be beside themselves with glee.