Yesterday, one of the most hated retailers in history announced that they’re closing their doors. Yes, I am talking about Blockbuster and the dreaded late fees that made them one of the most hated companies in America.
No matter how hard Blockbuster tried to shake the “late fees” brand once the Netflix era was ushered in, they couldn’t recover. Everything Blockbuster tried was too little, too late. After hitting rock bottom, then being acquired by Dish Network, everyone knew this day would eventually come.
This inevitable demise of Blockbuster that came as a painfully slow death, is just about the same as what everyone is expecting to eventually happen to Barnes & Noble. The main difference is that people never grew to hate Barnes & Noble. How could you? You could hang out in their store all day reading their books and magazines while not spending a dime. Heck, people where I live loved Barnes & Noble. So much so as they held protest when they found out that our local store was closing (it didn’t work).
Yet, even with the loyalty Barnes & Noble built with their “freemium” business model, missing the boat on innovation is still a death wish. The design of the Barnes & Noble stores hasn’t changed in over 20 years. Their Nook ereader is a me too product. Their online store will forever be in the shadow of Amazon.com.
Today we say goodbye to Blockbuster, tomorrow we will say so long to Barnes & Noble. All we can do is hope that there are hundreds of MBA professors out there somewhere teaching the next batch of CEOs how to learn from Clayton M. Christensen’s best selling book The Innovator’s Dilemma.