Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Movie burning kiosks coming to a store near you

At least, that's what a few blog articles I've come across lately would suggest. First comes this post from Blogging Stocks about Wal-Mart introducing DVD burning kiosks:
What if you were able to walk into Wal-Mart soon and copy some of your own footage or even TV shows onto a custom DVD or even an electronic device like a Sony PSP or Apple iPod with video? To fight slowing DVD sales and to give valuable shelf space to items with higher turnover, Hollywood Video appears to be in talks with Wal-Mart to place these "content kiosks" in some Wal-Mart stores.

The details are a little fuzzy, but it appears that Wal-Mart, by far the largest seller of DVDs with annual sales of $3.2 billion, could really be helping the DVD industry grow sales faster by forcing it to take a step into the future.
Granted, Wal-Mart briefly experimented with CD-burning kiosks in the past, and did not have great success with them (the project was eventually pulled). But that could have been for several reasons, including a tendency to do things in-house when they should have outsourced, and the fact that the introduction of the kiosks coincided with the rise of the iPod, which did a great deal to obviate the need for physical CDs.

The next post I saw came from Digital Lifestyle Magazine, who suggests that BestBuy may be planning a similar strategy, either to decrease the amount of shelf space taken by poor-selling titles, or to make way for new HD-DVD and BluRay discs that will start coming out this year:

Executives [at BestBuy] argued that installing these burning kiosks in major retail stores would help generate increased sales in an ever slowing $24 billion DVD market. Although most have noticed that the price of your average DVD has dropped dramatically, newer alternatives for obtaining movies such as digital downloads of films to PC’s, lap-tops, cell phones and even portable listening devices have shifted sales. Although these changes have been very profitable and less expensive for motion picture studios the change has meant a decline to those in the DVD business.

A main concern has actually been shelf space, the new kiosks would allow stores to perhaps restock their shelves full of more profitable goods, rather than old DVD’s collecting dust. A major obstacle that does remain is various licensing hurdles, which may infringe upon the appropriate usage of the video content. It is estimated that Wal-Mart, Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. Inc, represent nearly 50% of all home movie sales, with the proposed Kiosk solution that number has the potential to be increased even further.

The fact that video watching tends to be more socially-oriented than audio listening, and also that viewers (so far) prefer to be seated at home in a comfy chair or sofa watching a big screen would suggest that video-burning kiosks wouldn't meet the same kind of iPod-style challenges as the CD-burning kiosks did. Here's the original press release that started all the buzz.

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