The Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) is one of those gadgets that underlines how far the world has come in less than 50 years. The first VCR was produced about 40 years ago, and by the end of July this year, the last unit would have being made.
The honors for this feat belong to a Japanese company known as Funai. According to them, in less than two weeks they will stop producing any VCR gadget. It so happens that Funai is the only company in the world still making those classic machines.
So what is the reason the company decided to stop making them? Three major reasons actually.
I am sure you won’t be surprised that declining sales is one of the reasons. Last year, in a world that has a population that is heading towards the 8 billion inhabitants mark, only 750,000 were sold worldwide.
To put this in context, Funai who began to make VCRs thirty three years ago, used to sell about 15 million pieces every year.
The second reason had to do with the suppliers of parts or components used in making the VCRs. It became very difficult to get the parts as most factories had moved on to making hardwares that were really in demand.
The third reason is rather mundane if you think about it: the devices were not useful to anybody anymore. No matter how charitable a firm is, if people don’t use what they make, no matter how cheap, the wise thing is to shut up shop.
It is very easy to say advancement in technology killed the VCR players and it would be true. The decline accelerated with the coming of DVDs and DVD players towards the end of the last century. But it took about four years into the new century (21st century) before DVDs became more popular than the video cassettes players.
I can remember vividly when I once told a video cassette rental shop owner that DVDs would be the death of cassettes. The man swore by all the gods he believed in that something like that would never happen. As far as he was concerned, as long as there are poor people to watch films, VCRs would always be made to cater for them.
I wished I had asked him to put his money where his mouth was. I would have made a nice bit of money for myself. The fact is, even before this announcement, peddlers of video cassettes had stopped selling the products a long time ago. Even the so-called poor can now afford DVDs.
But it wasn’t the DVD player that accelerated the final death of the VCR though. It was the proliferation of the internet even among the masses.
With the internet, people could now stream online content directly without having to buy a physical disc. All one needed was money to buy enough data. It was inevitable that as data became cheaper, more and more people gravitated towards online streaming.
For many tech savvy youths, they can’t even remember the last time they even used a DVD to watch their favorite movies. They can download anything from several websites that offer them free of charge.
The next phase in the evolution or death of a medium for delivering and storing content will be the death of the DVD. We are already feeling it as more efficient storage devices are the norms for storing all sorts of files.
As for the good old VCR, I am sure there are some people out there who are still holding on tightly to their gadgets. Many of these set of people are just emotionally attached to them. I’d advise them to make time capsules of these gadgets. They can then show/display them to their grand kids in maybe 50 years time to relive the so called good old days.
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