Module 5: Red Queens and Increasing Returns


I can still remember when DVDs were introduced and I started sending my VCR tapes to what Yeebo (2004) calls the “technological graveyard”. People like myself were joining others in saying goodbye to Blockbusters’ motto, “Be kind, rewind,” and embracing the simplicity of popping in a disk, and ejecting the disk. Currently it looks like DVDs are heading in the same direction as VHS tapes; to be replaced by something new.

There is a new technology currently on the market that I love called VOD or video-on-demand. VOD is great because it’s fast, easy, and I can view movies from the comfort from my home. The purpose of this week’s blog is to determine if DVDs and VOD are Increasing Returns or Red Queens.


Red Queens and Increasing Returns are technological terms used to describe how technology behaves (Laureate Education, 2014e). The term Red Queen is from a scene Alice in Wonderland (Burton, Zanuck, Roth, Todd, & Todd, 2010), where both the Red Queen and Alice never get anywhere, despite running as fast as they can (Laureate Education 2014g). Arthur’s (1996), definition of Increasing Returns is when there are several technologies available at the same time, one of the technologies overtakes the other in terms of popularity and makes the previous technology obsolete. At this time, my DVDs are not heading the way of the dodo, but according to the Increasing Returns theory (Laureate Education 2014e), there is a possibility that one day they may be.

To determine if DVDs and VOD are Red Queens or Increasing Returns, I used McLuhan’s Tetrad to help me. By using the theories of McLuhan’s Laws of Media, I was able to examine further how DVDs and VOD enhanced, retrieved, revered, and made other technologies obsolete (Laureate Education, 2014g). Below are my tetrads discussing both DVDs and VOD.


The quality of DVDs is one of the reasons it replaced VHS cassette tapes. The picture quality was enhanced due the technology currently available for video recordings. Pictures were sharper, clearer, and with the addition of Blu-Ray, gave the impression that viewers were actually in the movie theater (Dawson, 2010).

DVDs made VHS tapes obsolete simply by their design (Dawson, 2010). The design of the DVD makes viewing and returning movies easier on consumers. No longer would people need to put the tape in, watch the video, rewind, and then return it. DVDs simplified the process by allowing viewers to put the DVD in the machine, watch, eject it, and then return it.

DVDs are smaller versions of the LP or vinyl albums. For people who grew up on this technology it rekindles the times when they would head off to the local record store and select their records to play at home. Much like the vinyl records, DVDs offer a wide selection, and they also include the pretty cover jacket, which reminds people of the album cover jackets from the past (Hayes, 2013).

While DVDs are superior in quality to the VHS tapes, VOD may replace them, just as DVDs replaced VHS tapes. The reason of course is the quality of the DVDs. If DVDs do not continue to advance and improve their quality, they may find themselves replaced as well.


VOD went beyond the basics of DVDs by eliminating the need for people to buy a DVD player. VOD allows consumers to view, select, and pay for movies from the comfort of their homes without a need for a separate trip to the video store (Lafayette, 2014).   This experience enhanced their need for instant gratification.

VOD eliminates or obsoletes the need for consumers to have broadcast TV. Consumers will not need to wait to see when and if their local TV stations will show their favorite movie. Now, people are able to choose the time and day when they wish to watch a movie.

VOD rekindles the past when jukeboxes were in bars and various entertainment venues throughout the country. People could walk into an establishment and listen to their favorite song on the jukebox. There was no need for people to wait until the radio decided to play their favorite song.   This need was satisfied almost as soon as people walked into their favorite entertainment establishment by simply paying the fee, selecting the song, and pressing play.

VOD reversed the need to spend more money to be entertained. Most of the services available on Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and Vudu are affordable for consumers. There is no longer a need for people to pay for gas, parking, movie admissions, and snacks when they want to see a movie. For a fraction of the cost, people are able to watch movies at home. They would also have the satisfaction of knowing that whatever movie they choose, it will never be sold out and the movie is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week (Flacy, 2015).

Using the earlier definitions of Red Queens and Increasing Returns (Laureate Education 2014e), it is my opinion that DVDs and VOD are Increasing Returns. Now once upon a time, both DVDs and VOD was Red Queens, but that is no longer the case. Due to the ease of accessing movies and the relative low cost of purchasing them, I think that VOD will become the dominant technology and cause DVDs to become obsolete. What are your thoughts?



Arthur, W. B. (1996). Increasing returns and the new world of business. Harvard business review, 74(4), 100-109. Retrieved from

Burton, T. (Director), Zanuck, R. D. (Producer), Roth, J. (Producer), Todd, S. (Producer), & Todd, J. (Producer). (2010). Alice in Wonderland [Motion picture]. United Kingdom; United States: Walt Disney Pictures, Roth Films, The Zanuck Company, Team Todd.

Flacy, M. (2015). Battle of the streaming giants: Which streaming service is best for you. Retrieved from

Hayes, D. (2013). Six reasons why dvds still make money-and won’t die anytime soon. Retrieved from

Hoffman, P. (n.d.). VOD. Retrieved from

Lafayette, J. (2014). Streaming helps cut 3qlive tv viewing. Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). (2014e). David Thornburg: Increasing returns [Video file]. Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). (2014g). David Thornburg: Red queens [Video file]. Retrieved from

Yeebo, Y. (2014). Inside a massive electronics graveyard. Retrieved from

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One Response to Module 5: Red Queens and Increasing Returns

  1. Hi Felicia, I think everyone agrees that DVDs are being made obsolete by VODs. Networking, access and instant access of VODs are making them trendy.


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