Blockbuster Thinks You'll Drive To A Store To Download A Movie?

from the our-dumb-ideas dept

While I do think Blockbuster is trying a few interesting ideas in its ongoing effort to adapt to a rapidly changing market, some of its ideas are just flat out bad. For example, new Chairman and CEO James Keyes actually spent time at the company’s recent shareholder meeting to unveil and talk up the possibilities of a special movie download kiosk that can be placed in stores. It sounds like someone got “kiosk fever.” For those who don’t follow the e-retailing space, I guess you can be forgiven for actually thinking digital kiosks make sense (though, barely). But the concept of in-store kiosks for digital content has been around for over 20 years, and shows up like clockwork every two years or so — and fails miserably every time. People just aren’t interested — especially when they have the best, most useful “kiosk” they could ever need at their home in the form of their computer. The idea that people will want to go to a Blockbuster store to download a movie seems preposterous.

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Comments on “Blockbuster Thinks You'll Drive To A Store To Download A Movie?”

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Michael Vilain (profile) says:

Doesn't anyone ever think about fixing broken kiosks

And staffing in each city the repair guys who’s sole job is to go to the myriad retail outlets with broken kiosks. The more complicated these beasts are, the more they’ll have to stock parts (or have the stores keep spares in their copious storage space).

And what about any network connection? Does it make sense for each store to have a high-speed Internet connection that can also break? I doubt they’ll have T1’s from each store directly to the regional datacenters, so they’ll have to rely on their ISP and the ‘Net to get good bandwidth. And ensure reasonable load.

Did this idiot think about this at _all_ before saying “Make it so”?

Joe says:

don't write off the whole idea

While your right that no ones going to drive over to blockbuster to download a movie, kiosks could find homes at other venues. For example – a blockbuster/ starbucks joint venture. download movies to your ipod while you get a latte. Pay for it with your starbucks coffee card so there’s no credit card info needed.

Putting kiosks at places where people already are, and giving them good options on how to get the movie – dl to ipod, email me a secure link to watch the movie online etc – and the idea could have some wings.

Ryan says:

Re: don't write off the whole idea

The issue with that is, they aren’t putting them where people already are. The last time I went to blockbuster, my family wanted 4 videogames (one for each of us). They said no, with cash, CASH!, they only let one game go out. When my dad whipped out a credit card, a DEBT CARD linking straight to our bank account, they still didnt let us take it. Complete BS, I’ve never been their since. They should fix their current issues before adding on more needless garbage.

PaulT (profile) says:

Did someone at Blockbuster just wake up after being placed into cryogenic sleep in 1996?

Seriously, this is the kind of idea that could have worked at the tail end of the last decade when most people had dial-up and 4Gb hard drives. Now, the only people this will appeal to are people who haven’t quite worked out this newfangled Internet thing. But then, why would they want to download instead of renting the DVD? Why would anyone?

GeneralEmergency (profile) says:

Consumers can't be fooled.

Consumers view Kiosks as cost-shifting, employee avoiding appliances, or even worse, as vending machines.

How do -YOU- feel about vending machines? Always have a good experience with them? Not me. I hate the things.

If you are a retailer and you are replacing employees with machines at the checkouts, you are alienating your customers.

Nasch says:

Re: Consumers can't be fooled.

If you are a retailer and you are replacing employees with machines at the checkouts, you are alienating your customers.

That is just not true. If I’m at a store with self checkout I will usually use it if I don’t have very many items. If they can have one employee running four or six checkout lines, that is fantastic. Everyone spends less time waiting in line, whether they use self checkout or not.

Meoip says:


Borders books and music is doing about the same thing. When I was in the store buying an old fashioned paper book there kiosks were full of people with there MP3 players downloading music. I don’t see blockbuster as being able to pull it off but if the download kiosk were in the grocery store I could start my download then have it ready when I’m done shopping.

Nicolas A. Barriga says:

What about slow internet access countries?

What about in a country where broadband isn’t widespread, or where broadband is more like thinband?

Where I live the average internet connection is nominally 1 mbps, though actually more like 512 kbps.

If this thing is located at a mall for example, I could go download a few movies into my laptop/pendrive/external harddrive while I do other stuff and come back a few minutes/hours later to pick it up.

thanks for the laptop! says:

Re: What about slow internet access countries?

> If this thing is located at a mall for example, I could
> go download a few movies into my laptop/pendrive/external
> harddrive while I do other stuff and come back a few
> minutes/hours later to pick it up.

Yes, please leave your laptop unattended at the mall kiosk while you go do other things!

Brian says:

Why bother, when you have redbox?

This entire concept is DOA because of the existing DVD vending machines that already exist on the market.

Redbox is a great idea and works pretty well (especially if you take use of free rental codes) in our area. The only draw back is that they are getting popular and you have to wait a few minutes to get/return your DVD sometimes.

So stop by my local McD’s, Walgreens, grocery store, etc and play a $1 to get a dvd rental or go to a Blockbuster store and wait for a download and deal with humans that will certainly pressure me to buy a magazine subscription?

Blockbuster would be wise and try to purchase a controlling stake in Redbox when it goes public soon, because between Netflix + Redbox, Blockbuster stores are outdated and no longer needed.

whitneymcn (profile) says:

But you left out the best part...

From the article:

Initially, the system will work only with Archos devices, but Blockbuster expects the kiosk to be an “open system” that is compatible with a range of devices.”

That would be Archos, whose devices’ sales ranks tend to hover in the 700s on, and who reported a significant drop in sales for the final quarter of 2007.

For a bonus, let’s toss in the question of how many movies will actually be available for download:

Keyes declined to predict how many titles will be available on the kiosk, noting that Blockbuster was still in negotiations with the major studios for content.

Yeah…this sounds like it’s set up to be a smashing success.

derleider says:

One place it would work would be the airport. Lots of people with laptops and a boring environment with a ton of free time. Redbox wouldnt work as well becuase you arent necessarily going to be in a position to return the movie.

I had this idea several years ago though. The fact that blockbuster, whose business is distributing movies is behind me in idea generation is disturbing.

idleline says:


As Brian has stated, Redbox is working. It’s not that Blockbuster’s idea is bad, they are late in coming to the game. Redbox is already there and likely to grow significantly this year.

The economics of $1.00 a movie per day work as opposed to paying monthly service fees for downloading and purchasing blank DVDs. If a site offers $1.00 downloads with no other agreements, you would have a better argument as the home pc being the best kiosk.

Not Applicable says:


Why is that people who have never even worked behind the counter, answered the support calls, or done any actual work,
get to make these silly decisions?

I tend to agree with idleline on this.
Redbox not only beat them to the punch, but have a much better business model. They place RedBoxes in grocery stores and in some places quickie marts (or so I hear).

Not only can I get a $1 per day movie, I can go online and see what’s available at my local kiosks, and rent them from my PC to pick up later in the day.

Granted, RedBox’s selection is usually somewhat limited, but it’s FAR LESS ANNOYING to go online and see the movie I want is out of stock, than it is to go into a video store and see the same thing.

Hence, I have not darkened the door of a Blockbuster or Hollywood Video in over three years.

Now, how long until someone builds a Netflix client for Linux?

The Truth Beacon says:

Possible (good) reason for this

How often have you gone to your local Blockbuster for the latest release and found that it was rented completely out…

With this option, you can still get that movie even if you don’t have a GOOD connection to the net. Probably also without having to have a monthly membership.

What would be smart is to pair these kiosks with burners, to burn the movies to disk – but that would be a nightmare for them with the DRM crowd and all.

Eric Goldman (profile) says:

Kiosks as Shelf Extenders

From Blockbuster’s perspectives, a download kiosk sounds like a way to improve the current in-store experience and offer more of the long tail. Shelves don’t have what you’re looking for? Download it! On that basis, the download kiosk idea isn’t totally stupid.

However, it also won’t fix the major problem with Blockbuster’s in-store experience that no one wants to drive to get their movies at all. So while it may be a short-term service enhancement, the long term for Blockbuster’s retail stores looks very grim.


jota says:


As others have stated, I think the kiosks would have to be somewhere other than in a blockbuster store, like the starbucks, grocery store, etc. I see the redbox machines around, but have never used one. One issue the blockbuster kiosk could solve would be the selection. As I understand it, the redbox machines have only so many movies in them. If I really want to show my kids The Three Amigos, chances are I can’t get that in any redbox, whereas a kiosk that is connected to the internet could download the movie and write it to DVD/flash/external hard drive for me to take home with me. The keys here will be DRM handling, location, and selection. In the end, I think their chance of success is slim at best.

Thomas Krane says:

This is one of the dumbest ideas I’ve heard of in a long time. The biggest question is what is it downloaded to. It would be really stupid if the downloaded movies were burned onto a DVD. I thought the main reason to download a movie was so you did not have to leave the house. I can think of very few reasons someone would drive to a Blockbuster store to download a movie. None will help increase Blockbusters sales and would probably end up hurting sale.

Provided the download doesn’t have to be returned, someone without high speed internet might do this. They would save money on gas by not having to bring it back. I’m guessing that many people who return a movie rent another at the same time. That wouldn’t happen in this case.

Another possibility might be someone who already goes to Blockbuster and wants a very rare movie that is not stocked, provided it was available via download. The customer would have to know this ahead of time to bring something to download the video to.

The only thing that could possibly work would be a Redbox type machine not in a Blockbuster that would download a movie to device instead of renting a DVD. That way movies would never be out, could have a bigger selection and would not need to be returned.

But what do I know?

Mike says:

Other ideas for digital kiosks

I agree that A digital kiosk in blockbuster would probably not be the best idea. What I don’t agree with here is the statement made by the author that digital kiosks won’t work. They would work if they were available in the right environment. If you put a digital kiosk in the middle of a mall with connections for the iPod, Zune, etc., people could download albums right onto their iPod. Also if there was a digital kiosk available in the airports, people could hook up their digital media players to it and download a couple of movies to watch on the plane because who of us likes watching the family-friendly trash the airlines play during a long flight. Why not watch your own movie on your digital media player?

Paul Brinker (profile) says:

Same idea for PC (or all) games

I have told the Gamestop guys around my area, get a Kiosk with every game you sell on it, with the ability to print disk covers and burn games on demand, add in a key server and print the key right on the disk.

Use this for the back catalog of all games ever released and now you can go to game stop, ask for some game from the 90s and sell that to a customer on the spot.

Take the key server one more step and when a game gets traded in at say, the end of the earth, a new key is added and a new disk can be made at the other end of the earth. That way the profit on traded games can be kept.

A system like this has only the most basic DRM, Online games will check the key, offline games dont care. This will allow the sale of PC games (which are tied to a key and not the physical product) Safe keeping of your old key, but not the requirment you use eather product.

Just a silly idea from a computer gamer with to many extra games now.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think it's ok.

Broadband penetration isn’t ubiquitous. And even with broadband, downloads can still take hours, or max out your connection.

Redbox and other vending machines are fine, and convenient, but have a very limited selection. In theory, this kiosk would be great to allow access to obscure titles that it wouldn’t make sense to keep physically in-stock at the store.

They’ll probably botch the system somehow, by either making it to inconvenient, overly expensive, or with a limited selection, but I don’t think the basic idea is bad.

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