In the mid 1980's I bought a compact disc player along with about 10 discs. I never bought another vinyl record again. Movies went digital about a decade later and after buying a DVD player, I never bought another VHS movie. Last year I bought a Blu-Ray player and I only buy Blu-Ray DVDs now. And of course I already know that eventually I won't even be buying physical media at all. I certainly don't buy music on CD anymore. Print however, has been much slower to go digital but it appears that it's finally reached a tipping point.
Yesterday, Amazon announced that they are now selling more ebooks than printed books. Amazon is a very smart company. They knew this transition was going to happen and if they weren't prepared for it, they would be left behind. They went a step further and even decided to help make it happen by creating the Kindle.
Barnes & Noble is trying to make this same transition and offer their own ebook reader, the Nook. However, I think it really only appeals to the hardcore Barnes & Noble fans and they are almost certainly more interested in printed books since Barnes & Noble has such a big retail presence. Of course Barnes & Noble is also going through a transition as they have recently received an offer to by acquired for a $1 billion. For a chain that has over 1300 stores, that doesn't seem like a lot of money. Barnes & Noble has about $4 billion in assets and $3 billion in liabilities. Subtract one from the other and you get $1 billion, so they are being bought for their book value. That looks like a fire sale to me and could mean the beginning of the end for Barnes & Noble. It feels to me that their effort to transition to ebooks (if they even looked at it as a transition rather than just some additional way to sell books) was half-hearted at best. Don't get me wrong. I like Barnes & Noble and if they go away I will miss browsing the bookshelves. But books and magazines are transitioning to digital and it's looking more and more like digital is the asteroid that will take out Barnes & Noble. An article on the Huffington Post from April suggests that Barnes and Noble should go all digital and close their stores.
Borders was too late and filed for bankruptcy last February.
Blockbuster Video should have seen the transition coming for video and bought Netflix when they had the chance years ago. By the time they realized their mistake and tried to create their own online copy of Netflix, it was too late. That mistake has cost them everything.
These types of transitions happen in every business but they happen most and quickest in the information business and that's what music, video, books and magazines are: information. Here at Real Software we are constantly looking at what we need to do to transition as well. We have recently added the ability to build web applications and are making preparations to support mobile platform as well. You have to be constantly on the lookout for how things are changing so you can adapt and evolve.
What changes are going on in your environment? How are you evolving and adapting? Share your thoughts.