EDUC 8342 Module 4 Assignment: Red Queens and Increasing Returns

The driving forces of Red Queens and increasing returns: How is video viewing impacted? By Linette Rasheed

The notion of forces that drive emerging technology is clearly evident when rivals compete. One driving force, increasing returns, is described as technology that is ahead of its competition and remains ahead while the other technology that is losing ground loses further ground (Arthur, 1996). Another driving force, Red Queens, is the steady competition between two technologies Thornburg (2013e, g) explained where one gains advantage over the other and becomes the dominant one in the marketplace. Blockbuster signThe driving forces of increasing returns and Red Queens have played a vital role in how consumers access videos. Buying or renting DVDs was once a Friday night ritual for most families. Date night on Saturday comprised of renting videos from once powerhouses Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.  Relics of the past, Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, once an example of the driving force of increasing returns are both now defunct.

The demise of these once popular video stores, lies in part, to the driving force of Red Queens. Today, more consumers access videos not through DVD rentals which remain around at kiosk like Red Box, but through streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Roku, Hulu, and more. Consumers have choices too, from on-demand streaming to live streaming.Best-media-streaming-services

To illustrate, my most recent DVD rental was through Netflix. As I prepared to watch the movie Paycheck for a class assignment on the driving force of Science Fiction on emerging technology, streaming video was my only inclination. In fact, I have not purchased a DVD in over ten years nor rented a DVD in the past two. Like most consumers, I enjoy the convenience of streaming video. In fact streaming video has become one of the fastest growing forms of watching DVDs since 2011. And no one knows more about movies and films than Roger Ebert. In a 2011 Wall Street Journal, article Ebert wrote, “I can choose to watch virtually any film you can think of via Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, MUBI, the Asia/Pacific Film Archive, Google, or Vimeo.” New York Times Writer Dave Kehr reported.

So, the current competition between DVDs and video-on demand is an example of the Red Queens’ driving force. In fact, some of the largest television manufacturers continue to produce their products with built-in-DVDs. Other leaders in the television industry are producing smart tvs with built-in video streaming. In the same fashion stand- alone DVD players are being rolled out to the marketplace with better technology and video streaming. Thornburg (2013e) defined this type of competition between two technologies trying to deliver to its consumer base what they want and need in order to gain advantage as the Red Queens .DVDs and video streaming are battling to meet the needs of consumers with products that provide better picture quality, better graphics, faster resolutions, and faster response times for movie viewers, all at a greater value. As for the future of these technologies, DVDs may become obsolete, falling to the third quadrant of McLuhan’s tetrad, while on-demand-streaming, because it does something that was not capable before—provide access to thousands of titles of films and movies from the comfort of one’s home, with the added advantage of being portable and accessible by smartphone, laptop or tablet—will remain in McLuhan’s first quadrant.


Arthur, W. B. (1996). Increasing returns and the new world of business. Harvard Business Review,74(4), 100−109. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Kehr, Dave. (2011, March 4). Bilton, N. (2015, February 4). Goodbye, DVD. Hello, future.New York Times. Retrieved from

Laureate Education (Producer). (2014e). David Thornburg: Increasing returns [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2014g). David Thornburg: Red queens [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

For more information on the history of video streaming visit

For more information on video streaming services visit






3 thoughts on “EDUC 8342 Module 4 Assignment: Red Queens and Increasing Returns

  1. Hi Linette,
    Thank you for your very interesting and detailed post. Do you think that the competition between DVDs and video on demand is more an example of Red Queens or Increasing returns?

    • Hi Lena:
      I believe DVDs and video on demand exemplify increasing returns because both are vying for consumer share in market. Video-on demand seems to be winning. It seems to be “locked in.” It appears that video-on-demand will at some point drive DVDs into extinction.

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