First Wal-Mart, and now Target, are having a pretty severe reaction to Movie downloads appearing in the iTunes online store. Both of the retail giants have stressed that there will be “consequences” if other studios join Disney in offering movie downloads through iTunes. First, I’m surprised they took the Tony Soprano route in threatening the major movie studios, and secondly, I’m really surpised at how little they seem to value the DVDs they are selling (although, I probably shouldn’t be surprised about either of those things).
Let’s look at what iTunes is offering, and what Target and Wal-Mart are selling – and you tell me which one is a better deal –
|Features:||iTune Movie||Retail DVD|
|Video Resolution||640 x 480||NTSC 720 x 480|
|Special Features||no||yes (on most titles)|
|Accesibility||download and watch almost instantly||drive to the store to purchase|
|Portability||requires Video iPod|
or upcoming iTV to watch off of your computer
|can be played in any DVD player in your home or car or DVD drive|
|Price||$12.95 to $14.95 for new releases||$19.95 for most new|
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my iPod, but these “threats” from Wal-Mart and Target seem completely unnecessary when you compare the two products. The Retail DVDs clearly have an advantage. Even the price is an “iffy” thing to give to the iTunes Movies because there are quite a few movies in the iTunes store that are $9.95 that I can buy at my local Wal-Mart for $5.50.
I’m sure downloading movies is the future of the medium. I think everyone reading this will probably agree with me on that statement (although I’m sure there will be some heat for my opinion on the iTunes movies Vs. the Retail DVDs charted above), but Target and Wal-Mart have nothing to fear from the current iTunes movie downloads. If anything, I it appears that these large retail outlets are trying to flex their muscles now, for fear of the world changing on them, instead of adapting to the needs of the consumer. I’m sure that’s easier than actually providing a product the way your customers actually want to recieve it, but the real kicker of the whole thing is that they don’t even seem to notice the MUCH BIGGER threat to their sales, Cinema Now.
Right now, you can head over to Cinema Now (assuming you’re a Windows user with Internet Explorer…ugh), and download The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift. Not only can you download it, but you can BURN IT TO DVD….and it’s only $9.95!!!! If Cinema Now ever gets enough sense to allow Firefox, and Mac support, they could be deadily to both the Retail DVDs AND iTunes downloads.
To sum up, it’s absurd that Wal-Mart and Target are get bent out of shape at the idea of Hollywood studios supporting the iPod market. The amount of iPods on the market is huge, no doubt, but the amount of Video iPods is much smaller than total iPods sold – and the amount of those users that are going to want to watch a 3 inch screen for 2 hours is even smaller. iTunes Movie downloads aren’t even going to be that cost effective when the iTV launches in 2007. You’re only saving about $5 dollars per movie, and it’s not like you’ll be able to watch the movies on a television in your house that doesn’t have an iTV hooked up to it (or will you?)…
What Wal-Mart and Target are really worried about is the changing times. They’re just using Apple as a means to focus their discontent with the fact that as broadband continues to spread through the world like wildfire, the method in which we will aquire our entertainment might not need them.