by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
video downloads


'Game Changing' Video Download Offering From Wal-Mart Closes... No One Notices

from the nice-work,-guys dept

Back in February, Wal-Mart launched its video download service and we were among many who declared it dead on arrival, noting that it was no different than all the other failed movie download offerings: pricey, limited selection and overly restrictive DRM. It seemed pretty clear that it was going nowhere fast... and that's exactly what it did. Reuters is now reporting that Wal-Mart shut down the site. Oddly Reuters claims that when it launched unnamed experts "hailed" it as a "game changer." Who are these experts? Shouldn't they be identified (and maybe asked to defend those initial claims)?

Luckily, while Reuters chooses not to identify the analyst, it only took a quick Googling to discover that it was the rather infamous Rob Enderle who called Wal-Mart's offering a "game changer" in an old Reuters article by the same author. This raises a question that has been asked many times before. Why does the press still quote Enderle, who has a long history of being consistently and laughably wrong? Remember, he was also the analyst who declared Bluetooth dead just as it was really picking up steam. And while we're pointing out Enderle's misses, it's probably also worth pointing out his prediction that the iPhone would be a huge drag on Apple's earnings and that marketing surrounding Microsoft's Vista launch would drown out any attention towards the iPhone. Want to revise that, perhaps?

Back to the Wal-Mart "game changer" flop, what's most amusing about the failure is that, as Gizmodo points out, the site was actually shut down over a week ago... and absolutely no one noticed until Reuters came out with a report late Thursday. Wal-Mart claims it shut down the site because HP discontinued the technology that ran the store, which also seems like a strange explanation. If you're serious about opening up a video download store, you probably shouldn't be relying on someone else providing the technology -- especially if there's a half decent chance that that company will pull the plug pretty quickly as it has almost nothing to do with the company's core business. HP blamed the fact that the market didn't develop "as expected." Perhaps the problem was that the store HP/Wal-Mart set up used incredibly restrictive and totally unnecessary DRM that made the service close to worthless. But rather than actually revamping the service to make it something useful the companies have given up altogether. It makes you wonder why they even bothered in the first place.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Bob12841987, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 3:37am

    Ha! Check out the Walmart FAQ:

    If you purchased Portable Format video files, then you can transfer these files from the computer you used to download the videos to up to three (3) compatible portable players. You can play the videos as many times as you wish on any of the three portable players.

    Please note that videos purchased from Wal-Mart Video Downloads are NOT compatible with Apple iPod, Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP), or Microsoft Zune portable players.

    What the hell else do people use for a portable viewer?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Jon, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 3:50am


    I use a Cowon iAudio A2, and I love it. But yeh - that's stupid not to include Zune/iPod support.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Bhargav, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 3:59am

    here's another one!

    Here's another game changing prediction from Enderle,

    Looks like he has a say on almost everything out there!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 4:18am

    Add this to the "Bandwidth crunch"

    article three over on Techdirt.

    Have you ever tried to download a movie (legally or illegally) it takes a huge bandwidth pipe to bring in 4-5GBytes or 15-25GB for an HD-DVD(or BlueRay).

    That takes hours of dedicated download time of your "bandwidth crunch", "ISP will now meter you connection" internet connection.

    When the toll gets too expensive, people will find other ways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Brad Eleven, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 4:21am

    Don't Dismiss Enderle ...

    ...just use the logical NOT of what he predicts as a very accurate predictor.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Kontra, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 4:28am

    In a frenzy to catch up with Apple, the industry hasn't learned much from the PlaysForSure debacle by watching Microsoft abandon its own DRM and introduce Zune with a new and incompatible system to compete directly against its erstwhile digital music "partners." In another instance of mortgaging success to others' willingness or ability to innovate, AOL recently moved its struggling video service to Amazon Unbox which in turn is based on Microsoft's PlaysForSure.

    The irony here is that Wal-Mart relied on HP that relied on Microsoft and AOL relies on Amazon that relies on Microsoft which itself no longer relies on its own PlaysForSure. When a core component of a product or service depends on the rate of innovation of another party over which you have no control or influence, it's time to rethink strategy. It's also time to ask yourself, twice or thrice removed from core competency, should you really be in such a business?

    Strategic design risks (1): Wal-Mart's foolhardy reliance on "partners"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Kevin, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 4:32am

    I like Rob Enderle

    I just wait for him to say a company or technology is going bust, and then I invest in it. He's made me a rich, rich man.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    xtrasico, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 4:49am

    Experts are...

    Many times "EXPERTS" are the "stupidessssssst" (superlative of the superlatives) people involved in a project. For Mr. Enderle everything is a "game changer". It doesn't matter if it is right or wrong, good or bad, it is a game changer. Maybe he is like weathermen. They are always right, but he doesn't use percentages or probabilities.

    I did a Google search on "game changer" +Enderle and it gave me a lot of results, and if you read, you can have a laugh, if you are bored and got nothing else to do.

    I did it because I am doing the laundry and I am between loads, reading Techdirt, flaming this moron, the latter been the greatest reason.

    Getting back to the topic, beside the "expert", I have a generic iPod, a Zune and a Zen V Plus. Maybe I was going to be able to see their videos in the Zen's 1.5" OLED Display, which is great for the home made racing videos of my 3000GT VR4 and music, but not so great for movies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Ima Fish, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 5:58am

    "Why does the press still quote Enderle, who has a long history of being consistently and laughably wrong?"

    If Enderle is as wrong as you claim (I've never read anything by him) I'm guessing the press is using him as a professional devil's advocate. Sort of like what John C. Dvorak does with Apple users. When everyone is saying "it's white," it's good business to have at at least one person talk about how "it's really black" just to get readers riled up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    miles, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 6:26am


    WOW what a great breakdown!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Captain Nemo, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 6:55am

    Cowon is a great company. I like their players. But, you see, I don't own one. I have an IPOD. And a PSP. So now, all I have is Google video, and the Apple store, and ripped DVD's, and those minidiscs. All of which are GREAT. None of which I get at WalMart. Especially not the DVD's, which are the only thing I even CAN.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Overcast, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 6:58am

    You can find an 'Expert' to agree with anything, particularly when you are paying them.

    69 out of 38 Experts agree that DRM is good for the consumer!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Lucretious, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 7:18am

    I wiki'd Enderle seeing as I only have heard of him from the occasional article. I still can't figure out what he does and what qualifies him as an "expert" in anything other than a sound-byte generator.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Nelson, Dec 28th, 2007 @ 7:50am

    Ha - ha

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    sammy colbert, Jan 1st, 2008 @ 7:00pm

    game changing or maybe not

    Is anyone really surprised? You have to execute flawlessly to do this... ask related Netflix, they are close to perfection. I think Apple is going to win these video download wars, they seem to win everything because of great execution. They sure did on the iPhone

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 11th, 2008 @ 7:15am

    as vrea un joc cu cai !!!!!!!!!!!!!! imi plac caii !!!!!!!!!!!!! cine poate sa imi dea sau sa imi zica un nume !

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
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    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2008 @ 7:50am


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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