The video cassette recorder, venerable fixture for more than 20 years in almost every Australian household, is on its sickbed, possibly to be killed by the DVD.
This week Philips, the huge Dutch electronics company that invented the cassette and technology that led to the CD and DVD, announced the closure of its remaining VCR production lines.
Sales of VCRs and rentals of video cassettes have been declining for years and are now in free fall. This year they are millions of dollars in sales behind DVDs.
The VCR market is saturated and replacement purchases are dropping by more than 100,000 a year, according to market analysts GfK Australia. As prices have been squeezed by tough market conditions, VCR sales have halved in value every year for the past three years.
In electronics stores around Melbourne, DVD players now sit front of shop but in stiff competition, driving prices down almost monthly. Even the best brands now sell for about $500 and the cheaper Chinese-made units for less than $100.