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Wal-Mart Closes Online Movie Download Service 136

eldavojohn writes "A year after opening its movie download service, Wal-Mart has abandoned the endeavor. They claim this is a result of HP's decision to stop supporting its video download store software. The article also notes that, unlike iTunes, Wal-Mart offered variable pricing which attracted a lot of studios. 'The world's largest retailer instead turned its rental service over to Netflix Inc. Wal-Mart still operates a music download service and continues to sell CDs and DVDs at retail stores and over the Internet for shipping by mail.' Is this evidence of the strength of unified pricing in media downloads or just another company being squished by the giant Netflix & Apple?"
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Wal-Mart Closes Online Movie Download Service

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 28, 2007 @02:37PM (#21841464)
    Wal-Mart "squished"? I'd like to see that honestly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ByOhTek ( 1181381 )
      You beat me to it.

      I was gonna say.

      [...] or just another company being squished by the giant Netflix & Apple?

      You mean for once WalMart isn't the one doing the squishing? How'd that happen?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CRCulver ( 715279 )
      While Wal-Mart has completely taken over small-town America, it is actively resisted by urban residents, and the company has been beaten back from establishing footholds on the outskirts of many city centers. See Fishman's The Wal-Mart Effect [] for more on this division between success in some areas and defeats in others. City dwellers (therefore a fairly large amount of Americans), have shown that Wal-Mart's offerings aren't too appealing, and the company has had no luck finding a way into their hearts.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        You could also try the book here [], too.

        It's hard to be all things to all people.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eln ( 21727 )
        I think you're misjudging city dwellers. In my experience, whether or not Wal-Mart is really challenged depends almost entirely on whether or not there's an aggressive neighborhood association in the area where they want to build. In cities where Wal-Marts are present, they are generally always crowded, and presumably make good money.

        Here in Austin, which is admittedly not a huge metropolis but is a good sized city, there are already several Wal-Mart stores, and I guarantee none of them are hurting for cu
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I think the GP isn't talking about suburbs but the actual city. We're talking full blown cities. I have friends who live in and around Chicago. They walk or take public transportation everywhere. Their local deli, the local grocery store. Have maybe 15 parking spots total. Walmart doesn't fit into this 'life style' You don't have 5 acres to put a 800 spot parking lot and a huge store. City dwellers are happy not having to drive anywhere.

          In the suburbs, you have a huge sub division with cookie cutter houses
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by MBraynard ( 653724 )
            Walmart doesn't fit into this 'life style'

            If that were true, then the city wouldn't have needed to pass laws to make it impossible for WM to open up.

            Chicago is surrounded by 42 Wall-Marts and the city-dwellers are exceptionally eager for WM jobs and services. Witness this from George Will's column on the issue:

            This suburb, contiguous with Chicago's western edge, is 88 percent white. A large majority of the customers of the Wal-Mart that sits here, less than a block outside Chicago, are from the city, and

          • by eln ( 21727 )
            With huge metroplexes like Chicago, things are different for a variety of reasons. However, to clarify, the north Austin neighborhood I'm referring to is not a suburb, it's in the city of Austin, a few miles from downtown. Actually, according to a recent newspaper article, the neighborhood is almost exactly in the center of population for the Austin metro area.
          • In the suburbs, you have a huge sub division with cookie cutter houses and 2.5 children per house. No public transportation nothing. If you have to drive somewhere, you're probably going to want to drive one place rather than 100. This is where walmart is thriving. As population density drops it makes more sense.

            It's more complicated than "they win in the Suburbs" I live in Jax, Florida,we have (last time I counted) 15 Wally Worlds within 30 miles of Downtown, over half are in the city proper, and all of them have had a positive impact on commercial enterprises in the areas they are in, except for the small business owners who competed directly with them. On the other hand, small and large retail outlets the don't compete directly, (like restaurants, and specialty stores) seem to thrive in those areas, and some

      • by Shotgun ( 30919 )
        I've watched several documentaries on people "resisting" Wal-Mart. I can't think of any single 'resistance fighter' that wasn't a small store owner. The fact that these small stores, with their high prices and limited selection, go out of business so quickly would indicate that the great majority of people find their product offerings to be very appealing.

        I'm an urban resident, and I shop at Wal-Mart. I don't find their crap to be any less appealing than the crap at Lowe's, Home Depot, Target, Food Lion,
        • by farrellj ( 563 ) *
          Wally's World sucks galactic muffins. IMOHO

          Sure, they have cheap prices, but a relatively limited selection of products. For example, I can go to a real music store, and find thousands of titles, but I doubt you will find even a thousand in a Walmart. Same goes for food, books, computers, and electronics.

          So if you want limited selection but cheap prices, choose Walmart. If you want selection, choose smaller stores that specialize. Going with Walmart limits your choice. With less choice comes less control ov
      • I guess I'm one of those "urban residents" now (just moved to Pittsburgh, PA, this month). While I do love being able to walk to work and most of the local stores in the neighborhood (Oakland & Shadyside areas), I will still drive to Wal-Mart, which is about 7 miles from where I live. The prices are good, and their selection really isn't that bad,... It's not the only place I shop, but I can't say I'm one of those Wal-Mart-hating urban dwellers ,...
    • Wal-Mart: We Sell Out For Less!

    • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      Even funnier is teeny little wal mart squished by "giant" apple and netflix. What alternate universe does the submitter live in anyway?
    • by Divebus ( 860563 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @05:08PM (#21842902)
      Wal-Mart got squished by doing what the studios wanted, not what the consumers wanted.
  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @02:37PM (#21841466) Homepage
    I never used the service myself, but apparently, the movies cost $20 each. For that price you could back up to DVD three times, but not to a format that played in a DVD player. Also, you didn't get the extras that typically come on a DVD. So you paid more money, for less content, that could be used in less places. And they wonder why it wasn't successful?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BrianRoach ( 614397 )

      Compound that with the fact that there is probably a Walmart (or some other large dicount retailer) within 5 miles of your home in most major areas.

      If I can get in my car, drive to the actual Walmart, buy the superior product for the same or often less than the one online, and be back at home in under 20 minutes ... erm, why would I buy the DRM restricted POS online?

      - Roach
      • How much do you earn an hour? If your an average software developer maybe $40-60, so that 20 minutes is $13-20. If your a somewhat experienced 'consultant' maybe you earn $60-$90 so that 20 minutes is $20-$30.

        Honestly for me, irrespective of salary, a 20 minute savings would be worth at least $20 because I simply don't have much free time.

        • by Facetious ( 710885 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @05:14PM (#21842964) Journal

          I simply don't have much free time...
          ...says the guy posting to /. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )
          Ok, then drop into walmart on your way back from lunch or on the way home.

          There's bound to be about 5 of them along the way.

          There are 3 along my commute home and another one on the other side of my particular 'burb.

          Then there are the 2 Targets and the used video shop along the same route.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by BrianRoach ( 614397 )
          Honestly for me, irrespective of salary, a 20 minute savings would be worth at least $20 because I simply don't have much free time.

          I guess I should feel lucky to have a job that lets me go to the grocery store. Where they sell DVDs. Often for less than $20.

          Sorry, but the "I make $X per minute" thing is just silly in almost every case. You don't work 24/7. You are not getting paid for your non-work time. My wife does not pay me $40/hr to take out the garbage, does yours?

          And anyway ... if you have no free ti
          • by Gorimek ( 61128 )
            Perhaps removing a lot of those wasted 5 minute chores was the result of such a re-think?
            • Then apparently he's the busiest man in the world, because he states he still doesn't have any free time.

              Again, unless you actually don't ever go to anywhere that sells DVDs (like the grocery)... um, the logic is simply flawed.

              And that's still ignoring the fact that you can buy DVDs on amazon and have them shipped to you for less money than downloading a DRM encrusted, lower-quality version ...

              - Roach

    • by gatzke ( 2977 )
      I just got a Tivo HD that works with unbox from Amazon. I think they have three different tiers of rental, a 24 hour period, some other deal, and a full on download and keep version. They seem priced fairly well, but oddly some movies are rental only or buy only. You would think they would all follow some scheme. And they include variable pricing schemes (some rentals are $1, some are $4).

      Online video distribution is slowly coming. They can't hold out forever. Music finally got here with itunes, video
      • by fm6 ( 162816 )

        They seem priced fairly well, but oddly some movies are rental only or buy only. You would think they would all follow some scheme.
        Different movies come from different sources, which have different anxiety levels about digital media.
    • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      So you paid more money, for less content, that could be used in less places.

      Well, it worked so well with the music industry with their DRM (Dumb Music Restriction) laden, lossy, buck per song downloads.

      And I never bought any of them! Or rather, rented stuff. Why do they say "buy" when you pay money for something and you don't own it?
  • Squished? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cheebie ( 459397 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @02:40PM (#21841504)
    Do they actually think Netflix squished something run by Walmart?

    That's like saying the local burger joint is going to crush McDonalds! Sure, Netflix is a big company, but they're nothing compared to the Wally-world behemoth.
    • Re:Squished? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timster ( 32400 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @02:46PM (#21841582)
      Sure they did. In this case, it wasn't even hard.

      Sometimes a big company will try some new endeavor to much fanfare, but not bother to try very hard, assuming somehow that they will win because they are big. When that happens it's easy to take them out. Wal-Mart had no plan here; they just thought selling some videos at terms dictated by the studios might get them some cash. If they ran their retail stores that way, those would fail too, but they put serious effort into their retail stores.
      • they just thought selling some videos at terms dictated by the studios might get them some cash. If they ran their retail stores that way, those would fail too, but they put serious effort into their retail stores.

        Actually, I can't find the source off hand but I've heard that WalMart has quite a bit of sway with their suppliers and can dictate to them how much they want things to cost or even packaging. So, what you're saying is that they ran this download store the complete OPPOSITE as their retail stores

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I think it was "me-too" to copy Apple with iTunes... One of the things NBC cited was Walmart holding their DVD distribution channel "hostage" if the studios didn't do something about Apple raining on their in store sales parade of music and DVD sales. Walmart's business is selling commodity stuff, cheap. DVDs fit the bill perfectly as there is no variation (Spiderman 3 is the same anywhere) and Walmart has a better channel than a zillion little stores to control for the studios. Everybody wants to be par
    • by snarkh ( 118018 )
      Well, even a dwarf can hurt a giant's little toe.
    • by LMacG ( 118321 )
      Well, no, they don't. TFA makes mention of the fact that in 2005, Wal-Mart closed its DVD rental operation and handed off the customers to NetFlix. This download service is something completely different.
    • I tell you, some days it seems like the little guy just can't win.
  • by beckerist ( 985855 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @02:41PM (#21841514) Homepage
    Wal-mart is successful because it has a very efficient method of physical distribution. This has no baring on their success in digital distribution.
    • Wal-mart is successful because it has a very efficient method of physical distribution.

      That is only half of what Wal-mart does, they are also very good at negotiating low prices from suppliers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Don't forget the other key to Wal-mart success, all-in-one convenience vs. smaller retailers. For someone with kids in tow, being able to buy groceries and shoes and school supplies all in one place is going to be much easier. Another factor that has no baring on digital distribution. A harder to measure influence would be stigma. Wal-mart is anti-glamorous, Netflicks and iTunes are moderately cool.
    • by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @03:13PM (#21841838)
      Let's not forget that Wal Mart was the first to really push a large number of stores in medium-sized cities. My hometown (~10,000 people) has three other comparably sized cities within a 5 minute drive and then one much larger city within a 15 minute drive. All of the other chains were opening stores in the large city 15 minutes away when Wal-Mart opened one in my hometown and one in the larger city. Effectively, this made it so that one Sears had to compete with two Wal-Marts but, since each Wal-Mart targeted a smaller area, only one of the Wal-Marts competed with the Sears.

      I read somewhere that 75% of all KMarts and Sears competed with a Wal-Mart, but only 33% of Wal-Marts competed with a Sears because of this strategy. When you can beat your competitors on price, location, and convenience, you're going to do well no matter what.
    • by LanMan04 ( 790429 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @03:45PM (#21842106)
      Your sig makes me want to kill you. :)
  • It's Walmart (Score:4, Insightful)

    by techpawn ( 969834 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @02:45PM (#21841558) Journal
    When the download becomes the same cost as buying/shipping physical media I think most Wal*Marx shoppers would rather have the physical media. Knowing a lot of people who WILLFULLY shop at their "super centers" and also Not so willfully work there, they are generally not the most technically inclined.

    HP Dropping support sounds like a cop out... but a believable one
    • ... they are generally not the most technically inclined.

      When digital has no significant price advantage over physical the technically inclined may also prefer physical. Rip the DVD or CD at the fidelity you choose, re-rip in the future as technology improves, consider the disc a backup as well.

      I'm also hesitant to consider someone who buys digital to be technically inclined. Most kiddies can manage that.
      • I agree. I'm very technically inclined (spending at least 8, but usually 12+ hours on the internet per day) and I always buy the physical/digital combination when offered. the physical media is faster and more portable for now and is an easy backup. If offered a choice between the digital and the physical, I'll choose the physical.
    • Wal Mart: (whisper) "HP, could you please drop support?"
      HP: (loudly) "WE ARE DROPPING SUPPORT."
      Wal Mart: (also loudly) "OH NOES THEY DROPPED SUPPORT. We quit."
  • by mcsqueak ( 1043736 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @02:45PM (#21841560)

    Is this evidence of the strength of unified pricing in media downloads or just another company being squished by the giant Netflix & Apple?"

    I think this is evidence of businesses trying to be too many things to too many people and slowly discovering that no, you can't be everything to everyone. "Jack of all trades, master of none" indeed.

    Focus on a specific market and DO THAT WELL.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stewbacca ( 1033764 )
      Exactly what I wanted to say, but you beat me to it. Wal-mart can only half-ass so many products before it finally catches up to them. This holds especially true with technical deals like this one (anyone can sell cheap Haynes underwear, but not everyone can sell digital content). You can't just throw money at something you have no expertise with and hope it makes money for you. You actually have to get involved and understand the technology that you are counting on to make you some money.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        anyone can sell cheap Haynes underwear, but not everyone can sell digital content

        That's only true if you assume that you can get cheap Haynes underwear in the first place. The reverse is true (at least for my skill set) when you consider how easy it is to set up a website compared to how hard it is to get the physical store, negotiate price with the supplier, buy from the supplier, distribute to the individual locations and manage the employees that are required to sell those products. Wal-Mart is exceptionally skilled at all those things and their size has made them even more so.


        • The reverse is true (at least for my skill set)
          Well stated post. The quoted part of your response points to why Wal-mart failed at the digital downloads. Their skill set is in physical supply chains, like you stated. They are a fish out of water when it comes to exploring other delivery methods.
    • What? You're thinking of small business. Giant corps like Wal-mart have capital specifically set aside to try new things like this. Sure, this one failed, but others probably succeeded (for instance, they sell gas now at a lot of them, and that's a success).

      The only reason that's a rule for small business is because it's easy to get ahead of yourself and waste away your time and money trying to do too much. If you're limited and don't have the money and man power to specifically go after something, t
      • I'll agree with you to an extent. As another poster said, they have the physical distribution model down pat. When I was getting my marketing degree several of my professors held up their supply chain management system as the best in the industry (which it is, despite my dislike for Wal-Mart on a personal level).

        Gasoline is a physical good which can fit into their existing supply chain model. Plus, it has the added advantage of being something people need when they happen to already be at their stores ("sh

        • I think you're thinking of the companies in question too much like products with certain capabilities. There is no Netflix model robot who happens to be really good and doing online stuff against the Wal-mart model robot with a different skill set.

          Both these companies are indeed good at different things, but that's only because of their employees and management. Shifting one or both of them can yield the same expertise as another company.

          Put another way: with the right people Wal-mart certainly COULD make
  • by RobBebop ( 947356 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @02:54PM (#21841656) Homepage Journal

    While hindsight is 20/20... this is a classic example of an "Old media" company failing to adapt to the "New Media" because they didn't have any expertise in the current technology.

    Wal-Mart's core competency is managing their supply chain. They make money by being the most efficient supplier of products that are in local demand. They operate their integrated technological systems marvelously. They don't know jack-shit about the internet and "download-able content". They should partner with Amazon to run their webpage... though that would probably start to enter into an anti-trust area.

    • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      Since as another poster pointed out, the download movies cost twenty bucks vs the DVD of $5 to $15, has DRM, and doesn't have any of the DVD's extras I'd say it was a case of someone putting a retard somewhere in management. I mean come on, if brains were dynamite whoever thought up that harebrained scheme wouldn't have enough to blow his nose.

      While hindsight is 20/20
      Gee I wish I hadn't called that policeman dirty names...
      • While hindsight is 20/20

        Gee I wish I hadn't called that policeman dirty names...

        I was implying that it doesn't do any good to say that this was a bad idea for them after the failure occurred. I'm not sure if you took my meaning, but I agree that cops get mad when you do anything to question their authority, such as name calling or (my favorite) urinating on their squad car in the donut shop parking lot.

        • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
          (my favorite) urinating on their squad car in the donut shop parking lot.

          Heartbreak Ridge, great flick!

          Cop: I don't give any serviceman's discounts
          Jarhead: Too bad, your old lady does!

          Don't watch that movie on TV, the censorship ruins it.
  • Wal-Mart put some annoying restrictions on their movies. Here's a quote from their FAQ:

    Due to licensing restrictions, you cannot copy or transfer your video files and play them on a different computer.

    What if I want to watch movies on my laptop and my desktop? What if I decide to buy a new computer and can't watch my movies anymore? Wal-Mart should realize that people can just download a movie via P2P and not have to deal with any restrictions like this. I for one and much more willing to pay money for media if I can do whatever I want with it.

  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @03:06PM (#21841766) Homepage Journal

    Is this evidence of the strength of unified pricing in media downloads or just another company being squished by the giant Netflix & Apple?
    If you believe Wal-Mart's explanation, it sounds like this is caused by relying on single source software maintenance. Hey, software users: GPL is for you. It's not a hacker thing.
  • It's just a dumb business plan.

    Trying to do a downloadable media store without taking the iPod into account is like trying to market an office productivity suite that doesn't read/write MS Office docs: You're doomed to failure from the start.

    If (and this is a BIG if) the movie studios wake up to the benefits of DRM-free downloads like some record labels have, the big winner here could be They're uniquely positioned to equal, if not better the success that Apple has had. They're platform agnostic
    • Perhaps, but the studios will be reluctant, just as the music labels were reluctant and finally dragged kicking and screaming by Apple into the download market, to deal with either Amazon or Wal-Mart (and Wal-Mart especially so) because they know that both retailers will push them hard on price in order to access their distribution channels and that would accelerate the erosion of their current pricing power which is already being squeezed by cutthroat competition between the likes of Amazon, Cosco, and Wal
    • Microsoft seems to be able to eat its own tail & live.

      "is like trying to market an office productivity suite that doesn't read/write MS Office docs: You're doomed to failure from the start."

      As in "The file that your less informed coworker has a 4 character extension that no one has ever heard of, so you can't open it. However, you can try downloading a converter".

      Wallmart's deadliest trick is Loss-Leading the undead blazes out of stuff. "Tell you what. Buy anything else in our store and we'll pay you a
  • by NonSequor ( 230139 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @03:10PM (#21841802) Journal
    Why didn't Walmart, of all companies, get a contract that insured that HP couldn't bail on them?
    • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @04:17PM (#21842378)
      You can't have a contract that compels another company to do something forever, that's just not practical.

      I would bet they did have a code escrow agreement - in the event HP decided to back out of doing the software (which they did) WalMart gets access and use of all the HP source.

      The fact that Wal-Mart is shutting down operations shows exactly what use code escrow is - jack and squat. What is WalMart going to do with a bunch of hacked together HP code, without any of the people who worked on it?

      Plus in general a problem with code escrow is that you can't look at the source before you take it over to see how feasible that proposition really is.
      • What is WalMart going to do with a bunch of hacked together HP code, without any of the people who worked on it?

        Hire a team of engineers to document and maintain it? We're talking about a video download website, not kernel development. Their reason sounds more like an excuse than anything else.
        • Hire a team of engineers to document and maintain it?

          And how long would that take to ramp up? Not to mention that WalMart is not in the business of media server software development, so it's impossible to say they could actually even just maintain the software very well, much less add new features...

          I agree that Wal-Mart probably wanted out anyway and this was a good excuse. But that does not negate the fairy serious challenge they would have faced going forward, more serious than I'm sure they guessed a
  • by Gavin Scott ( 15916 ) * on Friday December 28, 2007 @03:11PM (#21841816)

    In a statement, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Amy Collella said the company closed the store after Hewlett-Packard Co., which provided the software running the site, ''made a business decision to discontinue its video download-only merchant store service.''

    Walmart fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never buy any kind of application software from Hewlett-Packard! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha...

    Seriously, HP has the worst cace of attention deficit disorder of any company I've ever seen. I've spent 25 years watching them announce "the next big thing" only to completely forget about it a year later after having sold it to three big customers (who are then completely screwed of course). Anyone who buys a proprietary solution from them at this point deserves what they get.

  • by headkase ( 533448 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @03:23PM (#21841918)
    I refuse to download anything that has DRM on it. Especially considering that right *now* I buy my DVD's through retail channels and rip them myself (my country doesn't have DMCA idiocy preventing that) to the format of my choice. And when I switch around operating systems I don't fall into the trap of "sorry you're unsupported". Buying retail and ripping myself is what suits me best right now. Maybe when online retailers realize that DRM actually does nothing to stop piracy and only pisses off the people who actually do buy the product they'll drop it. And when/if they do drop DRM then I'll buy online instead of retail.
    • I get that DRM is bad for ownership, but how is DRM relevant at all if I'm RENTING a movie to watch one time. I'm not paying for the right to own it, I'm paying to rent it. I don't think I should be allowed to keep a copy on my video iPod, Zune, VCR, computer, DVR or any other device. This is where the anti-drm crowd starts to lose me.
      • Oops, sorry, I thought I was in the Apple + 21st Century Fox to offer movie rentals thread...
      • I hardly ever rent movies, what I'm talking about is buying them. With my computer hooked up to my big-screen tv it makes it a very nice experience to have a movie "jukebox" at my disposal. And I don't want to re-buy them just because I've found a better operating system for my home-theatre-PC. DRM in the buying-context is an extra risk - what about 5 years from now, 10?. Newer versions of even the same operating system may not support the old-and-clunkly DRM systems of today and that leads right back t
        • But people rebuy stuff all the time. I think I own the Scorpions, Love at First Sting, in album, cassette, CD AND iTunes variations. If Apple went bankrupt, and iPods stopped working, I'd buy it again to work with the next player's format.

          Technology changes, media formats change, which sucks, but I'm the sucker who keeps buying the newest format. I think the trick is to try and predict which format will last the longest before the next change. Ideally, your vision would be nice, to have completely sys

        • The current administration is confused between what is right and what is legal.
          Seems to me that they've adopted the strategy of just avoiding both at all costs.
      • by Kjella ( 173770 )
        If it plays where you want it to play, fair enough. With a rental DVD, I can pop it in my Linux machine and play it but with any kind of DRM I can't. Yes, I know I'm not supposed to be able to do it on Linux either but when you're comparing DRM vs reality instead of DRM vs should-be the DRM is limiting the watching too. I honestly don't care because I don't rent tho.
      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )
        If you're rented something, there's no good reason you shouldn't be able
        to play it ANYWHERE for the duration of the rental period. That means
        that you should be able to play it on your ipod in the plane going on
        vacation or on your archos during lunch or on your living room TV.

        Ripping it and playing it anywhere is not about "keeping it".

        It's about "ripping it and playing it anywhere".

        Even with perfect 4:1 re-compression you reach a point where you just
        can't store stuff anymore. Even if it's free you have to c
      • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

        I don't think I should be allowed to..

        There is no way to prohibit (through technical measures) the things you shouldn't be allowed to do, without also prohibiting things that you should be allowed to do. The only way to prohibit certain activities, is to lock the user into using some particular software, and thereby create interoperability problems. And those problems will exist (must exist) even if the user isn't trying to do anything bad.

        In the old days, prohibitions weren't enforced by technical me

  • Sales force (Score:3, Interesting)

    by abes ( 82351 ) on Friday December 28, 2007 @03:34PM (#21842010) Homepage
    Someone else pointed out that part of the issue is that Walmart sells DVDs already, and thus they were competing with themselves. I suspect they started the digital distribution because they realized long-term DVDs are dead. Even if a winner is ever found for Blu-Ray or HD-DVD, it might be too late now. Not that people won't buy them, but for most movies digital distribution seems likely to become the preferred method.

    However, short-term, DVD is still king. So do they cut into their current sales for an uncertain future (can they really win against the other big-players? .. it's certainly out of their area of expertise), or do they go ahead with their current sales with the knowledge that they'll lose out later on? One thing to consider, their primary market is not exactly tech-savvy, and therefore will likely continue with DVDs for the next 10-15 years.

    Another possible explanation, is perhaps they realized getting into variable-pricing was a mistake. If history gives us any lessons, the media companies are greedy bastards. They don't seem to give much thought into long-term planning. This is one case where the intelligence of Apple really comes through. They realized that unless they could control the prices, companies would try to charge more money than the physical media costs. I suspect after some grace period, in order to save face, NBC will come back to iTunes.
    • I suspect after some grace period, in order to save face, NBC will come back to iTunes.
      Let's hope. Their web episode player is the worst of the tv channels. The quality is so bad (frame rates, download speed, video quality) that they are practically unwatchable. I don't know how they managed to muck up the web player, because ABC's player is pretty nice.
    • Someone else pointed out that part of the issue is that Walmart sells DVDs already, and thus they were competing with themselves.

      Are you serious? Digital Downloads don't compete with DVDs, these are two very different customers. One uses a DVD player for entertainment the other uses their computer. Rare is it indeed, when I stick a DVD in my computer that was not made by me. I do however watch a crapload of Movies and Videos. Even Rarer is my wife using the computer to watch something instead of popping

      • by abes ( 82351 )
        Hmm.. let's see, you can hook up an XBox to TV. At least on the XBox you can download movies and TV shows and watch them. You can route your computer's contents to your TV with products such as the AppleTV (and its competitors). At least in NYC, many people don't have room for a full blown TV, so the computer monitor will often double as the TV. Indeed, while I do own a TV, I still watch a lot of TV shows on it (e.g. The Daily Show and Heroes).

        Perhaps your in your personal life there is a clear separation,
  • Yeah, I know, welcome to /. and all that.

    The line in TFA about turning over the rental business to Netflix relates to something that happened in 2005. Nothing to do with a download service at all. No squishing involved, on anybody's part.
  • Wal-Mart initially offered films from $12.88 to $19.88 and individual TV episodes for $1.96 -- 4 cents less than the iTunes store. Wal-Mart's online store sold older titles starting at $7.50, compared with the $9.99 charged by iTunes.

    Many studios have resisted signing deals with iTunes in part because of Apple's desire to sell movies at one price. Studios prefer variable pricing such as Wal-Mart offered.

    what's to note here is that films were offered between $13 and $20 a pop, with older titles at $7.5
  • I can't speak for this service but it irks me to find stuff on iTunes (mostly classical, in my experience) that I can buy for cheaper at Borders on CD than I can from the iTunes store.

    And I have a feeling with CD sales on the decline we're going to see more of the same. Especially compilations that will come in under the 10 USD watermark that will offer more than enough tracks to make it worth getting tracks you don't like for the ones that you do.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      However, there are a great number of us who don't have a boarders near by. We do have a Barnes and Noble, but it lacks the CD/DVD section that you find in other stores. All it has is book and a small cafe. There is the CD store in the mall, but their prices are jacked up and then Best Buy, which doesn't stock a lot of classical music.

      iTunes, however, offers most of the tracks I want and with no waiting. Usually I can't get them any cheaper from Amazon. Plus there are a lot of times i don't want the w

  • Rather than a sign that Apple/Netflix rolled over Walmart, it may be a sign that online movies are simply not the hot item that online music is.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.