Change is in the IT air

We may question the changes some companies make, but it is the companies that don't change that we should question.



commentary We may question the changes some companies make, but it is the companies that don't change that we should question.

We all know that the technology industry is ever-changing, and we have probably all heard many times over that companies need to adapt to this changing environment in order to survive. But even knowing this, the moves companies can make can still come as a surprise.

Take Apple and IBM for example -- who would've thought that Apple would ditch Power-PC chips and move to Intel? It is a move that risks annoying its very loyal fan base. And who would've thought that IBM would sell off its PC division -- one of the products that made IBM what it is today.

The writing is on the wall for bricks and mortar video hire shops.
While we might sit back in shock for a little while we need to realise these companies are just doing what they feel they must to survive. This then makes you wonder about the companies that don't change.

One of the industries that I currently have my eye on is the video rental business. I am quite the movie (and TV) buff. Instead of watching the free-to-air television channels (more on that in a moment) I prefer to rent out DVDs. My local video rental store has been reaping the benefits... up until now. Recently I signed up to an online DVD service -- I pay a monthly fee and they send me the DVDs I want to my door. I watch them, put them back in the envelope, drop them in the post, and then wait for the next lot to arrive. This has saved me fighting for parking at my inner city video store, wasting time wandering the aisles, and queuing for checkout -- it has also put a stop to late fees.

I am loving this new service and I don't see myself going back to my video rental store any time soon. But I am wondering why the popular video rental chains haven't started a service like it. DVD online rental services have been around for a little while now and even if some of the earlier ones didn't work out, someone was eventually going to get it right. The writing was on the wall for the major bricks and mortar video hire shops. So it strikes me that video stores are stuck in their ways, and so far have not adapted to new habits and desires of their customers.

I mentioned before that I don't watch free-to-air TV much anymore -- after I found my favourite programs switching time slots, taken off air mid season, and stretched out over months and months it didn't take long to realise that I could buy or rent them instead and watch them at my own pace. At the rate Australian television channels air my favourite shows (which are generally from overseas) it is already available on DVD. And if it isn't available on DVD, then let's face it, people are downloading it online -- regardless of the legality of this.

It seems to me that the free-to-air stations are shooting themselves in the foot and making themselves irrelevant. Customers don't want to wait anymore and they don't have to either. By offering such a bad service, it has made customers find an alternative much quicker than they otherwise would have. And technology is enabling this.

Don't get me started on record companies -- there is an example of an industry stuck in the processes of days gone by, and instead of adapting to the new world, they are trying to force the new world to abide by its rules. How much longer can it last?

All of the the change in the industry may seem crazy, but it is also clear that if you don't adapt you will be left by the wayside.

Natalie Hambly is Editor of Technology & Business. What changes do you see coming? Send feedback to edit@zdnet.com.au.

This article was first published in Technology & Business magazine.
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