Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - CES and Disruptive Innovation

From Las Vegas, NV - Everyone who's been to CES (Consumer Electronics Show, after Comdex collapsed will agree that it is a zoo. 140,000 people makes for huge lines for everything. Yesterday, while taking a cab from the Venetian hotel to the Las Vegas convention center (about 2 miles - it took 20 minutes in traffic), I started to talking with the cab driver. Ahmed said that he was originally from Iran and immigrated to the U.S. in 1972, "when everything was better" (now he said, "everything is bad") and went to college in Kentucky. Later, the owned four video rental stores in the Salinas, California area. He closed up his stores five years ago after Blockbuster stores started opening up in the area and moved to Las Vegas. Now, he drives a cab two days a week and travels. He mentioned that two of the Blockbuster stores near him have closed recently , no doubt due to the popularity of purchasing DVD's from big box retailers, renting from NetFlix and now downloading movies through services such as iTunes.

Existing technologies such as two-way digital cable (pay-per-view) and new technologies such as IPTV (ie, AT&T's U-Verse service), Microsoft Windows Media Center, Microsoft's XBox 360, MovieBeam, as well as download services like iTunes, CinemaNow and MovieLink are all vying to replace Blockbuster and they are already having an affect. Every time, a new technology replaces the old regime, someone is affected whether it is owners of small video rental stores or the guys who work in the Blockbuster stores. Of course, new technologies also provide new opportunities to those precient or fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time. But, let's not overlook the impact on those who are on the wrong side of technology.

I'll be posting my observations from CES in the next weeks.

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