Japan-Based Company FUNAI ELECTRONICS Will Stop Making VCRs at the End of July! Thoughts Moving Forward!
Staunch fans of our favorite analog format were met with some historically heartbreaking news yesterday, as confirmed by a Mental Floss UK article. Japan-based consumer electronics company Funai Electric has announced that at the end of this month, they will discontinue manufacturing their VCR units (which were produced in China) due to decline in demand and difficulty finding parts for the machines. At the highest point in their 30-year VCR-making history, Funai (which is known to us here in the States as the brand Sanyo among others) was selling around 15 million VCR units per year, but most recently, their VCR sales have dropped to about 750,000 units, prompting the decision to cease production.
Yeah, it's VHSucky news, Tapeheads. Good thing we've got about 10 VCRs in the basement, eh?!
After the news hit, online commiseration among Tapeheads duly commenced as the lamentation for the perceived loss of the VCR has been widespread throughout the rewind-inclined community and beyond. Surely, the cessation of VCR production marks a significant moment in home video history and seems to indicate that the VHS tape is one step closer to being completely removed from common contemporary consumerism. It only seems natural to mourn the event as it helps to cement the end of the analog era, however, here in Lunchmeat Land, we think it paramount to look at the reality of the situation with full VHScope. Sure, the production has ceased, but there is hope for the future of analog home video. First, let’s take a look at Funai’s recent numbers in relative terms. Even though VHS is largely considered a “dead” and outdated format, Funai still managed to sell around three-quarters of a million VCRs in 2015. Honestly, that’s pretty impressive.
A detail shot of a Funai branded VCR. Clickity-click HERE for a VHSexy (and slightly comical) video of this machine, man.
Also, to personally speak to the quality of the consumer grade Sanyo brand, my parents have had a Sanyo DVD / VCR combo unit in their living room since about 2005 or so. Over the years, the DVD player has crapped out, but the VCR? It still works perfectly. That’s not to say Sanyo is a superior and particularly reliable brand like JVC or Sony, or even Panasonic. It’s not. However, with regular head cleaning and moderate care, even the lowest grade VCR can outlast any digital playback system. There are even small companies out there like VCR-Players.com that can refurbish and the re-sell old VCRS, making them almost as good as new. I imagine as time goes on, and enthusiasts realize that the VCRs we have now are the last ones we’ll ever have, more entities such as VCR-Players.com will arrive.
There she is, Tapeheads! The Sanyo combo deck that's served my fam's living room rewind needs for over 10 years.
Such is the sentiment of fellow Videovore Calum Sanderson, which he shared on the Lunchmeat Facebook in reaction the announcement saying, “As long as there are VCRs, there will be a company who will make new ones. Did anyone foresee the vinyl resurgence? Now people are making more turntables. Same thing will happen with VCRs.” A Videvore can dream, man. Either way, that’s the VHSpirit, Calum. You know we can dig it. Ultimately, all of this is to say that even though Funai has stopped making VCRs, the massive amount of playback machines that are already out there (and I know of VCRS from the early 80s that still work without problems), will continue to exist in secondary markets for many, many years to come and in turn, keep those tapes rolling from their heads to yours. There’s just no question about that. And hopefully, the halted production of VCRs may now put a new notion into the minds of the VHS-watching public at large: take care of your VCR, continue to pick up the machines when you can and treat them with care. As time marches on, VCRs will indeed become more and more scarce, but as the appreciation for the ultimate analog format continues to grow, so will the efforts to preserve the playback machines that make them come alive. Continue to the conversation in the comments below, Tapeheads. Let us know what you think the future holds for analog home video. And share some of those nachos you get there. You know we want some of those nachos, man…