You say hello, they say goodbye


More news about technology eating its predecessors:

Moviefone is shutting down its phone-in ticketing business to focus on its app, according to Jeff Berman, president of BermanBraun, which runs the declining movie ticket service. “The call-in service has been in pretty steady decline… Our customers are much more interested in our award-winning app, and we need to invest our resources in the future, part of which involves a major reimagining of Moviefone.” This weekend, callers were informed that the service would soon go silent. Once a dominant force in the world of movie ticketing and listings, the service is best known for the voice of “Mr. Moviefone,” provided by founder Russ Leatherman, that greeted callers.

It’s part of the human condition to see things go by the wayside. In many cases what is lost is replaced by something that is better. A dial-in voice-based movie-listing service is hardly the best solution available to us, and the usage numbers for Moviefone show that. So it’s disappearance makes sense in terms of utility (and business). But with many of these disappearances, what we might mourn is the cultural loss (yes, Moviefone was an element on Seinfeld), recalling the affection we have for the familiarity, even considering it as tradition. Sometimes this collective sense of loss is enough to produce an outpouring that convinces a company that there’s a good-will business case around preservation. While I don’t expect that here, these occurrences are common and are interesting to look it through the lenses of function, business and meaning.

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