I was just reading this discussion on Slashdot about how VHS technology will not become obsolete anytime soon (and here I was thinking that it’s already dead). I had one of those rare realizations about how far things have come in Pakistan (or at least in the major cities of Pakistan).
From the discussion, it seems that most American households still have VCRs and are reluctant to get rid of VHS. The opposite seems to be true here. I must have watched maybe just one or two movies on VHS since I got here and the last time I used a VCR myself was while in Japan. OTOH, I’ve watched countless DVDs and VCDs and not just on my own PC.
Pretty much everyone I know has at least one PC and that too at least good enough to play a video CD. Either that or they’ve replaced their VCR with a DVD player. You might argue that most of the people I know are tech-savvy, but that isn’t exactly true these days. Besides myself, there isn’t anyone in our family directly related to IT (I doubt anyone really understands my work), yet a wedding video we recently received from relatives in Karachi (relatives who aren’t even remotely related to computers), was on a video CD.
I guess there are a few explanations for this difference. One is the availability of cheap (mostly pirated) media. You can pick up a movie on VCD for roughly Rs.60 (~USD 1) from almost any corner shop and a DVD for about twice that while VHS is mostly confined to select video shops and doesn’t offer as much choice. Blank CDs can be bought in bulk really cheaply though DVD-R/DVD-RW hasn’t come down in price enough to be more common.
The other is the openness to this type of change, or attention to details and inner workings in general, that Pakistanis posess. You can’t succeed here without knowing exactly what is going on around you. Even for things as simple as getting a mobile connection or having your car repaired, you have to be a part of the process and know what’s happening. Less common though still present is the “monkey see, monkey do” mentality. If your friend just got a new DVD player, you have to get one that’s better.
If it wasn’t for the affordability factor, I’m sure things would be even further ahead. Price is one major cause for DVD writers not being more common. I would get one for backups if they were less expensive, though haven’t checked the prices for a while. Maybe it is time.