Things are happening fast. Faster than any of us ever imagined. The rate at which technology is improving has hit a stride that does not appear to be slowing anytime soon.
With this comes innovations, conveniences and opportunities few of us could ever imagine. But along with it will comes churn and the death of aging or inefficient technologies. Take one look at recent decisions by Netflix and Apple and it isn’t hard to tell that the DVD is getting ready to go the way of the CD, the VHS, the floppy disk, the cassette and the 8-Track.
What is surprising (or disappointing in the case of Netflix) is how these two companies are approaching the future.
Take Netflix: the sheer velocity of the shift from DVD to streaming took even them by surprise. Now I’m not going to rehash their utter failing in properly communicating the change (Gini did a WAY better job than I could have anyway), because I do see how it was necessary.
Now compare that to Apple. It is plain to see that they feel that optical drives1 are dying. In fact they are going out of their way to kill them with their focus on the MacBook Air, the rumored DVD-free 15″ MacBook Pro and the death of the standard MacBook.
The difference between these two companies is that Apple is willing to leave money on the table now in lieu of the future. They aren’t only seeing the future, they are creating it. At the moment, if you were thinking about buying a computer, a DVD-Rom is probably a key feature in your mind. It is something we’ve come to expect from a computer. At the moment, Apple is willing to let those customers walk away in order to ensure the best possible future for their products.
Sure, some will say that this is self-serving of Apple. That one less DVD is one more iTunes download. And they are right, it is. But here is the thing, Apple isn’t only seeing an opportunity, they are ensuring it comes to fruition. Clearly Netflix sees the same thing. Clearly their data is telling them that streaming is their future. So why not burn the ships and forego DVDs? Fear and greed, plain and simple.
Unlike Apple, Netflix simply told us their new business models rather than taking the time to show us the future. They also told the movie studios that DVDs still matter (even if they matter less), which will only make it harder to get better streaming content. Like the music industry before it, the movie studios still think they have time and Netflix just confirmed it.
While Qwikster is clearly a first step towards the death of the DVD, it wasn’t enough2. When you are truly committed to the future, that often means leaving the past behind. This is the reason we will continue to see companies like Apple thrive and why many are questioning if Netflix will continue to stick around.