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Blockbuster mulls download stations to beat iTunes

updated 03:20 pm EST, Thu November 8, 2007

Blockbuster Digital Kiosks

Blockbuster is considering opening download stations as a way of shoring up its failing rental business, according to company chief Jim Keyes. The executive says that the company will launch an experiment which brings kiosks which could download movies directly to a portable media player, bypassing the need for a DVD or for transferring videos from a computer. The stations will appear at Blockbuster's own stores and may also branch out into malls and other areas where the chain typically does not operate.

The video formats and price strategy for movies offered this way have not been revealed, though Blockbuster intends to roll out test versions "aggressively" by early 2008, Keyes says. Other digital options being considered to revitalize the business include integrating Blockbuster's MovieLink direct-download movie service with Blockbuster and offering other digital services in the physical stores, such as an interactive children area or PlayStation 3 demo booths.

The effort has been characterized as an attempt to fend off both online services that mail video rentals, such as Netflix, as well as stores that offer both permanent and rental downloads, such as Apple's iTunes Store or Amazon Unbox. The relatively high price of physical copies of movies and limitations in stock have reportedly driven customers to Blockbuster's competitors.

Keyes specifically holds up Apple as an example of how to make the most of retail space. Though he does not draw a direct connection between Apple's portable music player business and video rentals, he explains that the willingness to try a significantly approach to retail outlets could prove useful for Blockbuster, which has typically been conservative.

"I get excited about what we could do with what is some of the most choice real estate," he claims.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. starwarrior

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2006


    Anything But Be Nice

    Everything but be nice to customers. I am not going to steal one of their disks. Get off my back with obnoxious phone calls telling me not to be late. I went back to Netflix.

  1. badbad

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2007


    Customer Service

    Customer service is more important than chasing after potential rentals lost to itunes.

    What a stupid premise that they are losing business due to Apple. Their customers are the "bird in hand" and the are not being nice to them.

    I cannot even conceive that iTunes is a competitor to Blockbuster's DVD rental business.

  1. MiMiC

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007


    YES please

    Either blockbuster or netflix offering DLs would be great! I check with netflix and it is PC only at the moment. :(

  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999


    we will agressively...

    prevent anyone using anything but Windows software from giving us money.

  1. Terrin

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006



    I like Blockbuster over Netflix for one main reason. Namely you can exchange the movies in the store as well as mail them back. I also appreciate the Blockbuster phone call reminding me my video is late. Blockbuster doesn't charge a late fee, but it does charge a $1 restocking fee if you are two weeks late.

    What I do not like about Blockbuster is it keeps changing it's offerings without giving users sufficient notice. For instance, up until recently you could exchange any amount of movies you had in store. Now it is only up to three a month, and Blockbuster didn't tell anybody about the change. So I drove all the way to the store only to be told I was over my limit. Moreover, the time frame doesn't go by your billing date, but by the actual month.

    I use to use Netflix, but I found it was slow to ship me movies. I also do not like that Mac users have to pay the same price for the service, but cannot easily download content.

    I also think the download kiosks are a dumb idea. I will download from my computer, but not a kiosk. Blockbuster should have invested in those DVD rental machines you see popping up all over the place. A while back, I heard Blockbuster was trying to work out a deal with Apple where people can download content in Blockbuster stores to their iPods. Not sure why Apple would be opposed to that. It hardly makes any money on movie downloads, and this would further cement its dominance in the music player arena.

  1. tindrum

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2004


    Restocking Fee

    Can I restock the movie myself, if I'm two weeks late with it? If not, "Restocking Fee" is just a euphemism for "Late Fee". I have Netflix, and the price is the same since they added PC downloads. I don't consider that I'm getting ripped off any more than I consider it unfair that I had to buy a house with 8 foot ceilings even though nobody in my family is more than 5'5". Couldn't I have saved money on lumber if they'd just built my house shorter? And my Levi's don't use as much material, but I pay the same as Andre the Giant for 501's.

  1. eeboarder

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2005


    It's called....

    It's called customer service. Until Blockbuster can figure that one out, they will be doomed.

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