Panasonic announced a few weeks ago it was getting out of the US set-top biz, something it pursued briefly in retail, but far longer through cable operator channels. That headline wasn’t terribly surprising, but today’s company news is a little different. According to The Wall Street Journal, Panasonic has also stopped manufacturing VCRs in its home country of Japan. Yes, VCRs. You know those old machines that your mother still hopes you’ll use to copy her VHS tapes over to a new medium? Panasonic is selling out its inventory in Japan, and then VCR sales there will be no more.
As a corollary to the Japanese news, The Wall Street Journal does point out that Panasonic will continue to manufacture VCRs in China and Slovakia. That’s likely because there continues to be a market among consumers who still cling to their VHS collections. Reporter Daisuke Wakabayashi characterizes the generational VCR divide this way:
If you had trouble programming it, you are probably a baby boomer or older.
If you know the cure for the fuzzy picture — pop the tape out; depress the small button on the side; pull back the lid and blow air ever-so gently onto the black strip to dislodge dust and other particles – you are probably a Generation X baby.
One final note: It’s staggering to watch how quickly DVD players are following VCRs down the path of obscurity. The Digital Entertainment Group reported last month that DVD sales dropped 20% in 2011 to $6.8 billion. Blu-ray disc sales fared better, up 19% last year, cresting $2 billion in sales.