Feeds

Wal-Mart online service misfires, as iTunes readies video for Europe

What's wrong? Where do we start ...

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Analysis There are so many things wrong with Wal-Mart's attempt to break into online video downloads this week, that we're not sure whether to write a long diatribe denouncing it, or if we should just list a few details and get it over with.

There has virtually never been a giant in the physical world that has gone on to become the giant in the online version of that same world, and the reason is always that whatever the company launches, it is trying to defined what it already has instead of replace it.

Video downloads will replace the DVD. Period. It’s just that no-one is quite sure how long it will take for it to happen. So offering a service with quotes from the launch manger that talk about using it to bring people into the Wal-Mart store, suggest that Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer of DVDs, is thinking mostly about stopping the online revolution from happening rather than making it happen.

Back in November we admitted to being baffled by a film download service tied to the purchase of a DVD from the store. Well that at least has changed. The online version can be bought on its own, OR you can download it and get the DVD in the post to you as a back up.

Partial screenshot of beta Wal-Mart video download, displaying words - 'unsupported browser'But it's still Microsoft formats only, working on a PC or PlayForSure Microsoft player, and it is limited to the US, and the web site simply slams the door unceremoniously on anyone from outside.

But if we were to point to one thing it would be price. Film download prices are download to own, and range from $12.88 to $19.88 on the day of the DVD release with older movies starting at $7.50. TV shows start at just under $2.00 an episode, the same as the iTunes pricing.

Taking the film Superman Returns as an example we find that the download can be bought for $14.88, and that this includes a portable playing file and a PC file. The DVD at the Wal-Mart online store is priced at $19.87. It can be bought more cheaply at Amazon, but not an online version.

So there’s a difference of $4.99 between the two, and one needs physical delivery, and needs to go through a physical manufacturing process. Try to use the site and you get a clear idea of how the physical and the digital are going to work.

Ask for Donnie Darko and the video is only available as a DVD, and Wal-Mart can send it to you, search for King Kong and you get the same result, The Lord of the Rings and all three movies are the same, DVD only.

An online only service would go to the trouble of negotiating for these items, not offering to post you a DVD.

We put in Potter, thinking that all the Harry Potter films would emerge, but it threw up films where someone in the cast had the surname Potter. One such was Fierce Creatures, a film made 10 years ago, and yet it is still priced at $12.50 for download only. Amazon had it on sale for anywhere from $5 to $10.

Such films are already fully exploited and need to be on the books at something like £2.50 rental or $6 to buy before anyone is going to take an online service seriously.

The Long Tail material, that which is old enough to be out of print and not worth holding physical stock for, is well served by the second hand market at Amazon, with physical DVD’s at customer homes up for re-sale, and to address it properly, the films need to be at a viable price level and plenty of them.

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.