Wal-Mart's New Video Offering Demonstrates That Copy Protection Kills Value
from the once-again dept
Plenty of companies have tried their hand at offering a video download service, and for the most part, they’re all me-too offerings that offer little value to the consumers. None seem to get that consumers want an easy-to-use service, unbridled by usage restrictions and device lock-in. The latest to throw its hat in the ring is Wal-Mart, which has been behind several forgettable internet offerings. Starting initially with just one movie, the latest Superman, for a few extra dollars, consumers will be able to buy a digital version of it, along with a store-bought DVD. Of course, there are all the usual restrictions, like it can only play on some devices, or on computers with Windows. But it’s interesting to note that the pricing for the digital version is such that the company is charging more for more flexible digital versions; in other words, it costs more to buy a copy that will play on your computer and device than it does to buy one that just plays on the computer. This may seem silly, but it’s also telling, as it’s an admission that the more flexible a product is, the more valuable it is. This is a point, we’ve been driving home for some time. It seems doubtful that the industry will get this message, however, seeing as Wal-Mart itself doesn’t even seem to get the lesson it’s teaching, as evidenced by how locked down the whole thing is.