What Ever Happened to Physical Media?

I was recently in London on a short vacation.  One of my favorite things to do in London is to walk around Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.  I like to walk into the various shops to see what people in the UK like to buy.  I’ve been doing this since I was in my twenties and it’s an ever-changing venue of junk shops, clothing stores, restaurants and even a casino or two.

But this year, something was very different.  I used to love to go into two stores; Tower Records (which has been gone for years) and HMV.  Both were packed with the latest music CDs and movies / TV shows on DVD.  I used to search out new music and, thanks to a global DVD player I have at home, British TV shows like Doctor Who on DVD.  As I turned to look for HMV this time, it was nowhere to be seen.  I knew that they had reorganized in UK bankruptcy, but I had assumed that they would not have given up their flagship store in Piccadilly.  Wrong.  The space is now a London junk shop selling tee shirts and anything you can think of with a Union flag pasted onto it.

Then I started keeping my eyes open for any kind of music or video shop in London. While they may have been there somewhere, I didn’t see any.  In fact, I had not seen any in Austria either, where we had started our trip.  And none at Heathrow airport, which used to have at least two such shops in Terminal Three alone.

It’s surprising how fast the change has taken place.  I was in London about three years ago and the music shops were still quite easy to find.  Now the only outlet I have to British CDs and DVDs is Amazon.co.uk.  That’s how drastically the market for media product has changed.  No wonder the NAB Show theme this year is “Channel Opportunity:  The Way to Play in a Digital World.”  And that way is to deliver content electronically and not in physical form.  Want to rent a video?  Do so on your tablet, PC or smart TV, but forget the DVD or Blu-ray.

As NetApp prepares for NAB, we’re bringing some people to the show to demonstrate how they have embraced the world of video on any device and how it’s more than just selling video to consumers.  For example, Russ Trainor, the VP of Information Technology with the Denver Broncos will speak in our booth about how the Broncos use game footage on multiple devices like iPads and desktop computers to help their players and coaches find the best way to compete on the field.  His video workflows for ingest, transcode, metadata tagging, content security and video delivery look almost identical to most of our major media customers, although on a somewhat smaller scale.  But think of how important this work is to their team.  How many of your hometown teams made it to the Super Bowl?

In each of these media workflows, storage plays a vital part. Without the proper performance in storage, the simplest workflow has very little chance of completing successfully.  At NAB 2014, we will show you how we make sure that the storage solutions you put in place will be the right solutions with the flexibility to change as the industry changes.

But my foreign DVD searches will continue.  You’ll recognize me when I’m on the hunt.  I’ll be the one wearing bear skins and carrying stone knives.


A little confusing for Australians - NAB = National Australia Bank

But yes, digital content is changing things.  Video rental stores are a dying breed, but it seems that record/music (and DVD/bluray) stores are holding on at the moment in Australia (thankfully!). 

madaniel Netapp Alumni


Sorry that it took me so long to reply to your note!!  I'm personally glad to hear that you still have music stores in Australia.  We do, too, here in the USA, but there are fewer and fewer each day.  Our big Hi-Tech retailer, Best Buy, announced that they would be significantly reducing the amount of floor space reserved for CD and DVD/Bluray sales.  You can still get pretty much everything you want on the web, but I personally like to browse the bins and find music I was not aware even existed.  But never fear, us old retro guys may be changing the model again. The latest big thing in music in the USA is the vinyl LPs!  Not many artists are releasing on LP yet, but more are each week. Thank goodness I still have a turntable and a kick-butt cartridge!