Thanks in no small part to the forgetfulness of consumers, disposable cameras still earn a place on kiosk and convenience store shelves 20 years after the first model was sold in this click-happy country.
Across the Pacific, a heartier appetite for disposables — little more than a film coiled behind a lens and a flash — has provided some relief for a film market trampled by galloping demand for cheaper and sharper digital cameras.
[…] So deep is the rot in global film sales that the world’s third-largest maker of camera film, Japan’s Konica Minolta, decided this year to pull the plug on making color film, while AgfaPhoto of Germany went bankrupt, sinking the once-famous Agfa brand.
But digital cameras are susceptible to theft, loss and damage and that has been another key to the longevity of disposables — serving as a stand-in at the beach, say, or amid the cacophony of celebration and inebriation at parties and rock concerts.
Its return from oblivion is a nice illustration of a brainteaser I have been giving my friends since I visited Netflix in Silicon Valley last month. Out of the 60,000 titles in Netflix’s inventory, I ask, how many do you think are rented at least once on a typical day?
The most common answers have been around 1,000, which sounds reasonable enough. Americans tend to flock to the same small group of movies, just as they flock to the same candy bars and cars, right?
Well, the actual answer is 35,000 to 40,000. That’s right: every day, almost two of every three movies ever put onto DVD are rented by a Netflix customer. [….]