FAREWELL TO THE CASSETTE TAPE
HARRY WALLOP, TELEGRAPH, UK - The eject button on music tapes has been
pressed for the last time. Currys, the biggest electronics retailer in
Britain, will today announce that it is to stop selling cassette tapes -
a move which sounds the death knell for the compilation tape, used by a
generation of love-struck young men to woo their girlfriends. The High
Street chain also predicts that this Christmas will be the last time it
sells any hi-fi system with a tape deck included.
Cassette tapes have been suffering a slow decline over the past 15 years
as first compact discs, and more recently music downloading, took hold.
But it is estimated that there are still as many as 500 million tapes in
circulation, languishing at the back of bookshelves, or in the side
doors of cars. . .
The sales of cassettes have fallen steadily since they hit their peak in
the 1980s - a decade when they enjoyed unparalleled popularity, helped
by the rise of the Walkman, launched by Sony in 1979.
The portability of the format moved out of the living room and on to the
street. In 1989, helped by falling prices of hi-fi systems, 83 million
music cassettes were sold in the UK. This fell to 53 million in 2000,
and just half a million in 2005, according to Understanding & Solutions,
a market research firm. Last year only about 100,000 of the items were
sold. However, this figure excludes audio books and blank tapes, which
still attract a small, loyal fan base, with four million blank tapes
sold last year and 1.5 million audio books.
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