These days you can watch movies in a variety of formats; you can access them through Netflix, buy the DVD or Blu-Ray, or download from your cable provider. As a PhD student in Educational Technology, I have recently become fascinated by the short stories of Philip K. Dick. Many of his stories have been made into popular movies such as Minority Report, Total Recall, Blade Runner, Next, Paycheck, and A Scanner Darkly. I recently re-watched Minority Report with fresh eyes and the technologies were fascinating!
I could have downloaded the movie from Netflix but I ended up purchasing a DVD copy, which I just happened to find at my local Wal-Mart. The store was having a sale and the movie was $5 so I picked it up along with a few others. It was the last copy of Minority Report so I thought best to grab it now and add it to my collection.
The fact that I could choose between a DVD option or video-on-demand option got me thinking about the forces in emerging technologies. Two of the six forces are Red Queens and Increasing Returns. Dr. Thornburg (2009) defines Red Queens as a competition between two technologies and in the process the others get left behind (Thornburg, 2009). The force of Increasing Returns is defined by Dr. Thornburg as two technologies which hit the market at the same time and just by chance one of the technologies becomes a “hit” driving the other technology to extinction (Thornburg, 2009). It should be noted that it is not always the best or most superior technology that survives. An example of this, provided by Dr. Thornburg is that of the battle between Betamax (Sony) and VHS (Panasonic). The Betamax version was by far the superior option but VHS was adopted by the public (Thornburg, 2009).
Currently, the battle between DVDs and video-on-demand (VOD) would be an example of Red Queens. This is because both still exist. You can go to Walmart, BestBuy, and Future Shop to purchase DVDs, whether it’s a movie or one of your favourite TV shows or you can purchase a VOD service such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu. Neither of these technologies have driven the other to extinction (i.e., Increasing Returns) yet but that may come in due time. I can see DVDs becoming obsolete due to their limitations in image quality and the popularity of being able to download movies and TV shows from the comfort of your living/family room.
I still purchase DVDs but they are not movies; they are the seasons of my favourite TV shows, which are not available on Netflix. As Netflix continues to add to their menu, I can see myself not buying as many DVDs as I used to; it will be nice to have all my favourite movies and shows on my Cloud or saved on my televison where I can access them at any time I wish.
In terms of McLuhan’s tetrad:
a) Video on Demand reversed DVDs
b) DVDs will be made obsolete by VOD
c) VOD rekindles “Home Movie Nights”
d) Blu-Ray will make DVDs obsolete
e) DVD rekindles the VHS, which was used to watch movies