- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006

Plans to liquidate retail giant Tower Records got under way this week, with 89 stores and 3,000 jobs about to disappear into the maw of economic history. Analysts say Tower was squeezed from two sides — big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and computer technology that allows music consumers to buy music online or steal it. What’s next on the great chopping block of the digital age?

Print newspapers — Journalistic content will always have a home somewhere, but the paper copy you’re holding (or not) in your hands right now might one day be viewed as a coffee-stained relic. One obvious downside: Dogs won’t learn to fetch laptops.

‘Must-See’ TV scheduling — Remember NBC’s formidable Thursday-night lineup? Well, you can toss that kind of branding onto the virtual fire. Premium channels offer multiple rebroadcasts of fare such as “The Sopranos,” while TiVo and on-demand digital services allow viewers to watch TV whenever they please. Then there’s the increasingly popular option of viewing content on portable MP3 players. May Brandon Tartikoff and his job description rest in peace.

The long-player — The demise of the traditional album format has been predicted for years as downloaders have cherry-picked their favorite songs and, in the process, revitalized the singles market. Yet the venerable LP is, in an important sense, already dead — or at least woefully inadequate. Consumers won’t settle for just 12 new songs every two years: They want supplemental video content (thank you, DualDisc); soundboard-quality live recordings as soon as they leave the concert hall; and continuous Web interaction on sites such as MySpace. The motto of the new age is: More, please — and faster.

Photo albums — The day might be near when only young newlyweds take the trouble of arranging hard copies of photographs. Sales of 35mm film are hemorrhaging as demand for digital cameras continues to rise. Who needs those curios of fading color when you can watch a personal slide show of high-resolution photography on your big-screen television?

The hobby shop — According to a San Jose Mercury News report last Christmas, the local supplier of model airplanes and toy trains is slowly going the way of family owned pharmacies. The reason: Video-game-addled children don’t have the patience anymore to wait for glue to dry.


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