Culture

by Carlo Longino




Why Is Wal-Mart Scared Of Apple's iTunes Movie Plans?

from the cheaper-cheaper-cheaper dept

A couple of months ago, we noted how Wal-Mart didn't like the idea of movie downloads, since it saw them as a threat to its DVD sales. Since the company sells 40% of the country's DVDs, it's got some stroke with movie studios, and apparently it's been doing the rounds ahead of Apple's supposed launch of iTunes movie downloads later this month, asking for lower wholesale prices and marketing help for when it launches its own download service. Apparently Wal-Mart is upset that Apple's been able to score movies for a wholesale cost of $14 each, and will sell new releases for $14.99 and older movies for $9.99, when it has to pay $17 wholesale. That $17 figure seems awfully high, given Wal-Mart's retail prices on DVDs, but it's possible it's using them as a loss leader. However, simply asking for lower prices isn't necessarily a great solution. While clearly Wal-Mart sees Apple as a threat, it's not clear that iTunes movies really will be one: if they're sold in the same format as its TV shows, they'll have a fairly small market, limited to owners of the latest iPods, really, since they don't look so hot on bigger screens (though it's possible Apple could announce new devices). Furthermore, Apple has apparently only secured a deal with one studio, Disney, hardly making its store comprehensive. If Wal-Mart really wanted to compete against digital downloads and protect its physical DVD sales, why not get behind tools that make it easy for users to turn physical DVDs into digital files they could move to their computer, or onto a portable player? Somehow, given the movie studios' hamfisted efforts at movie-download services, focused more on restrictions than usability, that seems rather unlikely. Perhaps it shouldn't be that surprising that apparently the only way Wal-Mart knows how to compete is on price.

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  1. identicon
    Franssu, 2 Sep 2006 @ 10:38pm

    Re: Netflix will dominate

    ...even compressed (meaning it'll look like crap on a large monitor), the movie will take up 2-3 gig.

    You forget the iPod uses H.264/AVC. Pirates are used to fit a movie in full SD video definition on a CD (650 MB) using MPEG-4 SP codecs such as XviD.
    For iPod definition using H.264/AVC, a size of 200-300 MB for a feature film seems closer to reality.
    In fact, with a little more than the size you mention, it's possible to encode a feature film in 720p HD using x264, with a reasonable quality.

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