Bad Ideas: Blockbuster Planning Yet Another Set Top Box Offering
from the please-don't-do-it dept
It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Apparently Blockbuster is working on plans to offer up its very own set top box for downloading movies that can be watched on your television. This is a bad idea. There is a long and disastrous history of companies trying to create their own proprietary set top boxes for downloading movies. They pretty much all fail. It’s another piece of expensive hardware that is extremely limited and tied to just a single company. This is probably something of a response to Netflix’s plans to have consumer electronics companies build in the ability to download Netflix films directly to televisions and set top boxes. That plan was bad enough, but this is much worse. People don’t want to spend a few hundred dollars just to get another set top box (which they don’t have room for given the number they probably already have) that only does one thing and only works with one company who they may not be comfortable dealing with for very long.
If Netflix and Blockbuster were being smart about this, they’d actually agree to an open standard to allow consumer electronics makers to build into systems so that people could sign up for whichever movie download service they want. They won’t do this because they think (short-sightedly) that this only helps their competitors while losing the “lock-in” that a proprietary solution would have. That’s the wrong way of thinking about it, however. The proprietary, limited, solution will fail because it won’t provide enough value. Therefore, the comparison isn’t between helping a competitor or having the field to yourself. It’s between a strategy that will cost a lot of money and ultimately fail, or one that will be cheaper and will most likely succeed, even if it means sharing some of that success with competitors. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer a success to a failure any time — even if it means my competitors succeed as well.