It's interesting to see what smartphones have helped to endAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
It's always sad to see things end, and we are no stranger to endings when it comes to smartphones. We've seen the tragic endings to webOS, Windows Mobile, and nearly BlackBerry just this past year. But as much experience as we have with smartphones and platforms coming to a bittersweet end, they have also contributed to certain businesses and services ending as well.
Tomorrow is the last day for the last remaining Blockbuster stores to stay open. Most of you probably already know what Blockbuster is, but for those of you who don't, I'll give a brief summary: In short, it was the place you somehow ended up at every weekend. When a new game or movie was released, Blockbuster was the place to be. It was perfect for the family who watched a movie and more than likely never watched it again, or the kid who could play through a video game in 5 days and never think to pick it up again. Movie and game rentals were the perfect solution to realizing that paying full price for a single movie or game just wasn't worth it.
Then Redbox comes out, and not only were they more conveniently placed, but they also cost significantly less. Where a Blockbuster rental would run you $3-$5 for a few days' worth of rental time, Redbox is only $1 per night. Since they are so conveniently placed most of the time (usually at some place like a drugstore or a McDonald's up the street) as long as you have a good memory you couldn't beat a $1 rental of some of the hottest new releases.
But then online services like Netflix comes along and completely obliterates both Blockbuster, who was hanging on by a thread, and Redbox, at least in theory. While Netflix was already popular to stream on TVs through certain consoles and computers through their website, what was likely the final nail in the coffin for Blockbuster was the introduction of the Netflix app on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. I can only assume that having these apps available at just the click of a button will even bring a service like Redbox down sooner rather than later.
But video rental stores aren't the only business to suffer from the convenience of mobile applications that can prove to be even more convenient. Even though newspapers are still in production, I imagine that it won't be long before they're out of print. There was already a decline in subscribers once newspapers starting printing stories on the Internet as well, but I think we are all coming to the realization that popularity of mobile computing is at an all-time high. With many manufacturers now offering cheap smartphones and tablets that are also reliable, as well as cheaper smartphone plans, just about anybody could hop onto the smartphone train if they really wanted to. That being said, it's a lot more convenient to read the morning news as it's updated through the application right on your smartphone or tablet, rather than subscribing to a newspaper every month, going outside to fetch the paper, and then messing with all of the pages in order to read the section you want. It's an outdated method of receiving news, and I feel like it's a method that won't be around for much longer.
The last thing that I've noticed I'm seeing less and less of around town, at least where I live, are music stores. While many people point to piracy as the biggest reason for this, I feel like an even bigger reason that these stores are no longer around is because of the push for digital music services. Services like iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Google Music and any other online music streaming or downloading services have effectively replaced the need to go out and purchase a physical album. And, yes, I suppose piracy has had a negative effect on these stores as well, but in the end I really think that the push for purchasing and listening to music digitally is the larger culprit.
Technology is able to improve and replace certain services and businesses in order to improve the amount of convenience associated with these services. With smartphones being so versatile and in an ever-changing market, it's no surprise that some of the services on our smartphones are effectively ending the services we used to know and use.
What are your thoughts, readers? What businesses or services have you noticed being replaced by services easily accessible on our smartphones? Are there services that you think will go out of business soon? Share your thoughts and opinions with us in the comments below!