Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Will the humble DVD kiosk take down mighty Netflix?

Most Netflix users I know can't say enough good things about the service. Cheaper and easier than going to the video store, and with a much -- MUCH -- wider and deeper selection of titles to choose from, it comes highly regarded by video novices and serious movie buffs alike.  So it's funny to think that in spite of this a little DVD rental kiosk that can only stock a hundred or so titles might be the thing to take the company down a peg.

Well, maybe a couple tens of thousands of the devices...

But this isn't my prognostication. It comes from none other than the CEO of the firm himself, Reed Hastings, as this NewTeeVee article mentions: "Hastings reinforced the company’s commitment to DVDs and Blu-ray and said he believes there is still a lot of growth in its rental by mail business. Rental kiosks and their $1 new release movies are expected to be Netflix’s No. 1 competition by the end of the year."

I have to imagine that the convenience of the two approaches is relatively similar.  Is it easier to make a queue of videos and get them in your mailbox, or pause in front of a kiosk on your way out the door of your local supermarket?  It's basically a wash.  However, while the kiosks will never be able to match the depth of selection that Netflix offers, it can provide some instant gratification that Netflix -- even with their new on-demand streaming service -- can't yet match (for new releases, at least).

I'm sure that both Netflix and the numerous DVD rental kiosk owners out there know that it's only a matter of time before the next big switch happens, and people turn to their computers, or Internet-connected TVs, to do the majority of their movie renting and downloading.