08:15 – The end of an era. Blockbuster Video, which a decade ago had about 9,000 stores, announced yesterday that it’s closing its distribution centers and its 300 remaining stores. The Onion sums it up.
It’s not often, even in retrospect, that one can point to a single small error that will kill a business. But in Blockbuster’s case it’s possible to point out just such an error. In the late 90’s, a Blockbuster customer returned a video late and was charged a $40 late fee. That pissed him off. His name is Reed Hastings, and instead of just stewing about it he went out and founded Netflix. Which killed Blockbuster.
11:45 – I’ve spent the morning issuing purchase orders and buying stuff. I ordered some stuff from Amazon, and they asked me if I wanted to sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime. I’d done that before and let it drop before the 30 days expired. I did it that time mainly to try Amazon Prime Video, which turned out to be a PITA compared to Netflix. Incredibly, Amazon has no queue. You have to search for each video you want to watch and start it playing manually. I thought that first Prime trial was a one-time only thing, but about six months ago Amazon started offering me a second chance. So today I decided to sign up again. This time, I’ll just keep it and pay them their $79/year. We’ll probably watch some videos on Prime–stuff Netflix doesn’t have yet–and the free 2-day no-minimum order shipping is a minor plus. Also, Barbara sometimes wants a Kindle book that’s priced outrageously. With Prime, she gets one free book a month.