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Cringely on Blockbuster-iPod Video Distro Plan 218

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the in-a-perfect-world dept.
MrPerfekt writes "In this week's Cringely column, another one of his hypothesizing sessions actually seems plausible. Blockbuster's retail outlets make good sense for Apple to partner with them for video iPod content distribution. From the article: 'Take your Video-out iPod to Blockbuster, drop it in a kiosk dock then download from the local xServe your choice of 50,000 movies. You can rent the movie or buy it and you can even choose the resolution, which may or may not affect the final price. Take the iPod home, drop it in the dock attached to your TV and watch the movie. H.264 decoding takes place in the iPod in hardware.'"
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Cringely on Blockbuster-iPod Video Distro Plan

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  • But, but (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 16, 2006 @07:48PM (#14738456)
    I don't even have an iPod. How could this story possibly be true?
    • You don't have an iPod? You're obviously a lying music pirate and should be locked up for trying to evade the RIAA lawsuit you deserve. Not even having a computer or internet connection is no excuse, you're obviously up to *some* sort of shenannigans, just like that computerless grandmother we sued. We got her good, the lying old witch. No computer my butt!

  • by jcr (53032)
    Drive to the Blockbuster to load up your iPod? When I have a perfectly good cable modem connection? Can you say "Akamai", boys and girls?

    Blockbuster has nothing whatsoever to offer Apple if and when Apple decides to go into the full-length, hi-def movie business.

    -jcr
    • by FirstTimeCaller (521493) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:00PM (#14738533)

      ... I have a perfectly good cable modem connection

      If you RTFA you'll see that this is intended to extend iPod sales to those who do not have broadband access (or even a computer). Yes, believe it or not, such people do still exist.

      • Or to misquote Andy Tannenbaum: Never underestimate the bandwidth of a city bus full of iPods hurtling down town.

      • by shadowmatter (734276) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:42PM (#14738814)
        Yes, believe it or not, such people do still exist.

        I'm more surprised that people who RTFA on Slashdot still exist. Don't you want first post!?

        - shadowmatter
      • by 7Prime (871679)
        Sorry dude, you need a computer to use an iPod. Sure, there are a few folks out there who probably have all their music on their friend's computer, but those people are few and far between. Seeing that the iPod demographic, while mainstream, tends to be the technically elite mainstream... and fairly cosmopolitan, it's safe to say that a large percentage of the the demographic has fairly decent internet access. And, so what if it takes 2 hours to download a movie? Many people download things while they sleep
        • Computer does not equal internet access, and even when it does it does not mean fast internet. I am amazed by how many of my friends still have dial-up. I am even more amazed at my friends with crazy gaming rigs they take to LANs, video iPods, and still only have dial up at home. I know a couple of the people are because of lack of infrastructure (no cable, and no DSL capable lines) but I think most are just cheap.
        • I think that Cringely made a plausible case for having an iPod as part of your home entertainment equipment without involving a computer (by getting media from a booth at Blockbuster Video). His intention was to show that there is a market for iPods outside the existing demographic, and that Apple should see if they make more profit by selling their wares to this segment.

          As for broadband uptake, perhaps the article about USA attitudes to Broadband [slashdot.org] wasn't available when you wrote -- it tells us that many pe
        • I know more ipod owners without computers than with computers. I live in a 7 person house share, and there are 6 ipods that use my computer. The one girl loved the look of them so much she just bought a 30gig pod and put (get this) 7 cd's onto it. Thats all she wanted. I sneakily put the ricky gervais podcasts onto their as well, but sheesh, you'd be amazed at the none-techi people out there using ipods. Their biggest gripe about it is getting content onto it, as they're not allowed to install itunes on the
          • What is wrong with wanting an Ipod and only 7 CDs on it?

            Why do everybody needs to fill the music players with uncountable hours of music that will neve be heard?

            All this people boasting about 20000 songs n their Ipods are consumate idiots. Basic arithmetic will show that they wil neve ever listen to all that music.

            SOmebody sensible will put a few CDs and be done with it. Somebody even more sensible would buy a small caoacity okayer.
            • >What is wrong with wanting an Ipod and only 7 CDs on it?

              it's a waste of money. With that few cd's you could buy a cheepy flash mp3 player and put the 7 cd's on it. or buy a cd player that reads MP3's and burn all 7 cd's on a single cdr.

              why buy an pricey ipod for 7 cd's?
          • I like this idea, if for no other reason than it means my ipod will finally be able to synch with more than one computer.
        • The way it currently stands, a computer makes using an iPod easier, but it's not essential. For instance, Linux can be loaded and used, albeit with an interface not designed for such. Include a special dock with a few extra buttons (delete, for example), and you're in business. Another possibility is the appearance of special DVD players that have an iPod interface, like that which can now be found in many car stereos.

          I find the whole notion quite intriguing, and very possible.

          (tig)
      • Such people do not buy iPods.

        Bob's a smart guy. I've had emails with him. But he needs to get a carbon monoxide detector in his study. I think his heater's running funny this week...
    • Ya know what? USB2 is a whole hell of a lot faster than even 5Mbit cable.
      • Yea, but

        1) Drive to video store
        2) Sync iPod
        3) Pay $$$
        4) Drive home and watch movie

        takes a lot more time in active participation than, say

        1) Download movie in background
        2) Pay $$$
        3) Watch Movie
    • Blockbuster has nothing whatsoever to offer Apple if and when Apple decides to go into the full-length, hi-def movie business.

      Other than perhaps saving Apple a large fortune in bandwidth costs and the bad karma associated with grinding the entire internet to a halt as millions of geeks cry 'Ohh! Movies on iTunes! Shiny!'

      I, however, would suggest some place other than Blockbuster:
      Blockbuster == evil
      big chain grocery store == less evil
    • Drive to the Blockbuster to load up your iPod? When I have a perfectly good cable modem connection? Can you say "Akamai", boys and girls?
      Blockbuster is not in Korea, like you, where broadband penetration is almost universal. Blockbuster is in the US, where, thanks to the competition between the baby bells and between the beloved cable companies, broadband penetration is almost nonexistent.
      • Hmmm, non-existent broadband penetration you say? If by non-existent you mean the majority of Internet users in the United States, then I guess we agree. The percentage appears to be around 60% of Internet users.
        http://www.websiteoptimization.com/bw/0509/ [websiteoptimization.com]
        • Ah, but in the US, even sub-megabit DSL is considered "broadband". Heck, so is 128kbps ISDN, for that matter. It makes the "% broadband penetration" numbers less embarrassing.
    • by tshak (173364) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:54PM (#14738892) Homepage
      I "only" have 1.5Mbps downstream connection. I don't want to wait 3-5 hours to download a high quality video. I also don't want my connection virtually hosed for half an evening. I would rather take a few minutes to walk or drive to the nearest blockbuster and load it up in less than a minute. I would probably need a connection with a solid 8Mbps downstream before I would consider the download times reasonable. Then again, for HD-DVD content, we're probably talking about 20GB+ in which case 8Mbps is way too slow. It's a great ideal to download content over broadband, but the infrastructure just isn't there.
      • I also don't want my connection virtually hosed for half an evening.

        If you download it while you're sleeping, you're still getting faster than you would from Netflix (for example).

        -jcr
    • I know you're very well off, Mr. Randolph. From what I gather, you have made quite a fortune between your work in the computer industry and your investing. But not everyone is nearly as lucky as you are.

      Not everyone lives in a house or tenement with cable Internet or DSL, for instance. Even in some suburbs cable is not available, and if you're in a rural area, it likely won't be available for decades. The same goes for DSL.

      And while there are many people who do have such services available to them, but choo
      • I know you're very well off, Mr. Randolph. From what I gather, you have made quite a fortune between your work in the computer industry and your investing.

        ?

        I'd hardly call it a fortune. Nevertheless, I can afford the cost of cable modem connection, as can several million other people.

        -jcr
  • by dgrgich (179442) <drew&grgich,org> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @07:56PM (#14738501) Homepage
    This is the key point to take from the article. I'm not defending whether or not Burst's patents are valid or not valid...just that nothing will happen until Apple makes Burst.com go away. This will require:

    1. Invalidating their key patents via the courts - long and costly

    2. Buying a license to use their patents (the solution Microsoft pursued) - short and costly

    3. Buying Burst.com - short and costly and not a chance in hell because I can't see Jobs giving up when he is convinced that the patents that Burst.com hold are invalid.

    However, I do think that the rumors of Sony launching some sort of movie service that y'all can plug your PS3s into is lighting a fire under the Cupertino booty. Somebody is going to launch this party . . . and if iTunes is any indication, to the first goes the $$$$.

    We definitely live in interesting times.

  • by davidbofinger (703269) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:00PM (#14738536) Homepage
    Take your Video-out iPod to Blockbuster, drop it in a kiosk dock then download from the local xServe your choice of 50,000 movies. [...] For Apple the point here is to sell iPods to people who might not otherwise every buy one (my Mom, for example), to bring digital downloads to people who don't have broadband or even a computer, and to make it all incredibly easy.

    But borrowing a DVD is already incredibly easy. About the only way this is easier is that you don't have to return the DVD and I don't think that's enough. Apple would be asking its customers to spend hundreds of dollars (?) on a piece of hardware that would be doing more or less the same job as the DVD player they already own.

    It's probably a reasonable why-not idea, for those who already have an iPod. But I can't see it attracting a lot of new customers.

    • by microcars (708223) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:29PM (#14738735) Homepage
      "...Apple would be asking its customers to spend hundreds of dollars (?) on a piece of hardware that would be doing more or less the same job as the DVD player they already own."

      Change DVD player to CD player and go back a few years.
      Now how does this blurb about the iPod sound:

      Apple would be asking its customers to spend hundreds of dollars (?) on a piece of hardware that would be doing more or less the same job as the CD player they already own.

      terrible business model....

      • iPods had a big advantage over portable CD players - more portability. They were smaller than portable CD players, more convenient to use, much more portable than CD libraries. I don't think the video iPod has any similar advantage. It's not a portable viewer, as long as you're still taking it home to watch on your TV. If people start watching movies on VR glasses or something then that sounds like a much more promising paradigm.

        iPods could also use songs downloaded from the internet. There's a margina

      • Well in this case it is a bad business model because those who do not yet have iPods or other mp3 devices represent the more conservative consumer market ie. they are not early adopters. Those people have not felt the need for a broadband connection and they likely won't fancy "upgrading" their dvd players so fast.

        Those who do have broadband are much more likely to forgo the blockbuster stores thus making blockbuster totally redundant for Apple. And that's why Cringely is full of it.


      • The thing is, portable DVD players are already cheaper than video iPods. And regular DVD players are cheaper than an iPod Shuffle.

        Going with the iPod really doesn't get you much of an advantage. The screen is smaller, the video is lower quality when hooked up to a TV. The only advantage might be that you can keep more than one movie on the iPod, but that strikes me as being much less significant than the ability to keep thousands of songs on an iPod versus a few songs on a CD.

        There's no way Blockbuster is g

        • As an addendum, there is one place where I think this business model would work well...

          Airports. The ideal market for this would be travellers facing a few hours on a plane, who probably would appreciate being able to pick up a video to watch without being encumbered by a DVD case, bag, plastic wrapper, etc.

          Especially if the service allowed the movie to be loaded onto a laptop for customers without a video iPod.
      • my cd player didnt play movies
    • It's more likely apple is partnering with Blockbuster on a branded On-Demand service that runs over broadband. Apple creates the hardware and the backend, Blockbuster deals with the companies to provide the movies/content.
  • hmmm iPod or DVD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    based on Cringley's latest "predictions" ie.. google advertising on tv? not anytime soon.. blockbuster having "docking" stations for ipod's? nope sorry.. cringley is waaaaay wrong lately..

    first of all apple hasn't sold enough video ipods for blockbuster to even think of making a kiosk.. and second everyone has dvd players dummy.. you dont need a 400$ portable device to rent a movie.. you simply take the piece of plastic home with you. Maybe your saving the customer a return fee but why not save the c
    • I agree with you in the main. However, the british navy is having ipod docking stations installed on it's latest over-priced, gold-plated kill machines [timesonline.co.uk]. So, if you ask me, anything is possible.
  • by ciurana (2603) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:03PM (#14738560) Homepage Journal
    Greetings.

    My first reaction was the same as many here when I read the article: why bother, if you have broadband?

    Cringely gives a good answer toward the end: because not everyone we know is using computers or cares about broadband. Outside our techie world, some people find the computer either intimidating or perfectly acceptable running on a 56 kbps modem. Thus, the ability to dock and iPod and refresh its contents at a local store isn't that far-fetched.

    If you look at some of the big box retailers' strategies, they're all leveraging their on-line stores against their bricks-n-mortar stores, creating a continuum rather than a separate experience. They are integrating their .com stores with their real stores. Apple probably wouldn't make the movies available through Blockbuster/Hollywood Video/etc. that would be just the channel to make them available for the computer-phobes or non-broadband customers.

    Now... coming back to reality... where on earth does Cringely get this stuff? Very entertaining, good speculation... but just that, in the end. Is anyone keeping track of which of his write ups wind up being accurate?

    Cheers,

    Eugene
    • ..because not everyone we know is using computers or cares about broadband.

      While that may be true, I doubt many of those people without a computer happen to have an ipod.

      I'd also suspect those who are happy with dialup are more inclined to rent a DVD.

      where on earth does Cringely get this stuff?

      Cringely predictions have always been a take-with-a-grain-of-salt kind of thing.. After these two ridiculous apple predictions today, I wouldn't be surprised if he's getting
    • Is anyone keeping track of which of his write ups wind up being accurate?

      According to the man's own review he does a reasonable job [pbs.org] at around 73-80 percent depending on how critical you want to be.
  • Anyone here got contacts to a columnist at a computer magazine?

    These writers seem to have access to some really heavy drugs and I'd like to buy some.

    Or maybe Cringely and Dvorak are willing to share.

  • by EdwinBoyd (810701) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:07PM (#14738600)
    No offence to the good people that work at blockbuster, but I'm not handing over my ipod to the people that work there. I can already see the "Blockbuster is not responsible for loss of data, cosmetic or electrical damage caused to your device during transfer" fine print.

    Not to mention the Tarintino wannabe desk jockey with a chip on his shoulder after you try to rent Navy Seals or somesuch.....
  • how big is a dvd quality movie? how fast is usb? how long will the queues be?
    • 133 seconds (Score:2, Informative)

      by tepples (727027)

      how big is a dvd quality movie?

      Without extras, about 4 GB, or 32000 Mbit.

      how fast is usb?

      Theoretically 480 Mbps, practically 240 Mbps or thereabouts. 32000 Mbit / 240 Mbps = 133 seconds.

  • by DirePickle (796986) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:14PM (#14738643)
    Dvorak and Cringely both in the same day! We're doomed, folks!
  • Sorry Cringely, http://www.blockbuster.com/homepages/LoadBlockbust erHomepage.action [blockbuster.com]

    Blockbuster is already picking up the Netflix model and supplanting it with free in-store rentals.
  • More on Burst.com (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dgrgich (179442) <drew&grgich,org> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:17PM (#14738666) Homepage
    Notice that Burst.com also announced that they are waiting another month to file their counter-claim to Apple's original suit.

    What does this mean?

    1. Burst.com needs more time to get their ducks in a row?? - Not likely. Any patent attorney worth their shiny shoes could have seen this stink with Apple coming from at least 946 smoots away. I can't imagine that Burst.com didn't anticipate Apple's suit and thus, they know how to reply.

    2. Burst.com is stalling for time in case someone else is going to buy them in the near future - Why would Sony or Microsoft swoop in now when they didn't all of last year? They've got their own dudes with shiny shoes who are advising them to wait on the sidelines. I'm postive that no one in high-tech thinks that Burst.com's patents are valid -- however, someone has to jump in and sue. If Apple does, let 'em. Sony and Microsoft and Amazon and NetFlix and Blockbuster and . . . . insert old media company here . . . will jump in the pond after Apple's determined the water temperature. No one ELSE is going to buy Burst.com until this thing is clear.

    3. Burst.com and Apple are working out a deal - Now this one . . . I think I can smell. Apple's suit is a great opening chess move. I can see Burst.com demanding a hefty licensing fee that amounts to something silly like amounts that have more than 9 figures or huge amounts each year. I'll bet Burst.com even has the moxy to think that their patents are worth hundreds of millions alone. What better way to get good terms for Apple than to file a suit? Dare Burst.com to go to trial . . and risk losing the patents . . . or settle on a lower licensing fee or selling price.

    I'll bet at least my own shiny shoes that these suits are just negotiating by other means.
  • by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:38PM (#14738776) Homepage Journal
    Why buy Blockbuster when you can duplicate it in inside of a vending machine?

    Seriously, who needs a coupla thousand square feet of overlit retail space and some glassy-eyed clerks when a vending machine can do the exact same thing, 24/7, in 12 square feet, installable in any mini-mall, public transit station, school or grocery store? If Apple were really interested in direct loads to iPods one of these and a network connection is all they need.

    Figure a box the size of your typical soda machine (mostly for security & visibility), fill the bottom foot with concrete for stability and theft-discouragement, then a rack with an Xserve & some reasonably high-speed communications gear. Have it download material on a regular basis, video & audio, in whatever formats and quality required. Put some smarts into the system so local demographics are respected and demand is anticipated (Espaniol in Spanish neighborhoods, kiddie material when installed in schools, etc.) On the front stick a few TV screens showing previews and specials.

    For security double encrypt all of the media content, partially decrypt as it's being iPod-loaded, then have it played back using a public key system. Then step back and see what sells. Sure music, videos, ringtones and movies can be the first products but what about software, indeed any sort of large or valuable file. Leave room in the top of the box for wireless distribution - walk nearby and your electronics can auto-discover streaming audio and video advertising in WiFi & Bluetooth, access to websites that pay Apple for the privilege, etc.

    But a whole Blockbuster? Naw, a mini Lockerbuster!

    • by md17 (68506) * <james AT jamesward DOT org> on Thursday February 16, 2006 @09:57PM (#14739236) Homepage
      That is actually a great point! When I lived in Denver almost every McDonalds had a RedBox that rented DVD's for $1. We never went to Blockbuster because McDonalds was just as close and despite not having the selection, was one fifth the price. It would be silly of Jobs to pay for all that real estate when he doesn't need it. Unless he has some other idea to make money off the space. Which he might. Anyways for more info on RedBox check out: http://www.redbox.com/ [redbox.com]
    • Figure a box the size of your typical soda machine (mostly for security & visibility), fill the bottom foot with concrete for stability and theft-discouragement, then a rack with an Xserve & some reasonably high-speed communications gear. Have it download material on a regular basis, video & audio, in whatever formats and quality required. Put some smarts into the system so local demographics are respected and demand is anticipated (Espaniol in Spanish neighborhoods, kiddie material when install
      • They would need to do MAJOR upgrades to the connectivity of all those ATM's. Most ATM's are backhauled to a mainframe via, at best, a 56Kbps frame-relay circuit. Adding T1 or better pipes to the tens of thousands of ATM's in this country is a nontrivial investment. Who's going to pay for it? Apple? The banks?
    • There's several key reasons I can think of why a mini lockerbuster won't work.

      1. if you plan to deploy nation wide, that's a very hefty intial investinvestment on trying to secure the box and digital equipment. it's not like your local rent-a-dvd box where the mechanisms are similar to a vending machine. I would have to say the security on these boxes would need to be almost on par with ATM machines.

      2. updating the server would mean it'll need an online connection. once again, something general vending mach
      • 1. if you plan to deploy nation wide, that's a very hefty intial investinvestment on trying to secure the box and digital equipment. it's not like your local rent-a-dvd box where the mechanisms are similar to a vending machine. I would have to say the security on these boxes would need to be almost on par with ATM machines.

        Why is that? Just encrypt the content (or even 1/10th of it spread through a movie) stored in the kiosk and have a hardware coprocessor decrypt it as it is transferred. Anybody messed w
  • by mdarksbane (587589) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:41PM (#14738800)
    There are quite a few areas (like, say, anywhere >2 miles outside of a suburb) where you can't get cable or DSL. These people still like to watch movies (which is one of the reasons why satellite TV is so big).

    But that's just the advantage over internet distribution. No one's talking about the advantages over retail.

    How many movies are in an average blockbuster. How many of you have gone there (ok, say five years ago back when you didn't just download it over your university connection) and they didn't have the movie you wanted to watch, or had already rented it?

    If you have all of your collection on a hard drive, you can rent it out to everyone at once, no problem. And you can keep WAY more movies available at any one location.

    The whole convenience of blockbuster is a good selection (or sometimes just large selection - how much luck do you have finding exactly the awful horror flick your friend recommended to you on p2p in any reasonable amount of time) and short time to get it - yes, it isn't as convenient as netflix or a download if you're planning ahead, but if you just want something to watch TONIGHT, it's a lot easier to stop at a store on your way home than scour p2p or call netflix and wait a day.

    I could definitely see my parents (who don't have broadband) using this, and if it were tied into a fully stocked online store/rental (and therefore, I already had a video ipod) I could myself using it, too, when I don't have time to wait for a download.

    It's not as good as a full download store for those of us on fat pipes, but a large portion of the country can't or won't get those, and for those people I could see this being quite useful (assuming you made the whole thing so easy to use that they wouldn't be intimidated by it - that'd be the hard part).
  • Not everyone has an iPod or cares about Apple.

    The beauty of those shiny plastic disks called DVDs is that you don't need any special means of transporting them from a store to your house.

    Besides, how long would it take to copy 6-40 Gb of files to an iPod through a dock. How many customers per hour does a blockbuster store serve?

    Most people who visit video stores seem to hire 2-3 movies at a time, possibly more for weekly hires. This seems like an awfully slow way to process customers.
    • About 2 to 15 minutes to download, over USB 2.0? It'll be faster to drive to the store and get your movies than to download over broadband at home - though if you're not in a rush and not charged by the megabyte transferred, not having to leave home may be more convenient.

      Standard Def Movie - roughly 6Mbps, 7200 seconds worth, would take a minimum of 90 seconds if you got 480Mbps - probably a bit longer in RL. HD movies 2x to 3x longer. Combined with movie previews and browsing for another movie as you wa
  • by 955301 (209856) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @08:47PM (#14738846) Journal

    Wow, that's backwards thinking for you! Why bother leaving the house?

    All apple needs to do is upgrade the mac mini to include an ipod video docking station and convince us that we need one in the living room. Download movies from the iTunes video store and play them using the mac mini. If you want to take a movie to a friends house just sync it to the ipod video go to said friends living room with an s-video cable and viola: The ipod is the new DVD media and player all in one. Exactly where they want to be.

    All this sneaker-net idea of his would do is slow Blockbusters death at Apple's expense.
    • Have you tried downloading five gigabytes on typical consumer broadband? That's the size of a typical DVD-quality movie nowadays. With a 1 mbps broadband connection, it would take me nearly half a day to download five gigs, and I'd have my Internet connection saturated to the point of unusability that whole time. Doesn't sound like such a good idea now, does it, thanks to the pathetic state of American broadband. It would be far more convenient to go to the corner store, get the movie straight in, and in

  • by LinuxMacWin (79859) on Thursday February 16, 2006 @09:41PM (#14739169)
    How much is a DVD? 5 GB? Let's say we have an iPod that size.

    What BB could do is to stock iPods preloaded with movies? You go and pick up a movie. When a movie is in demand, they load many iPods with the movie. When it goes out of demand, they replace the movie by a newer one.

    They get to re-use the hardware. They could also do just-in-time inventory - if a movie is left with 2 copies, they just start loading another 2.

    BB could charge customers a deposit to rent the device.

    But I still think a better solution is downloadable movies.
    • I assume you're kidding - you're suggesting that a $300 piece of hardware be tasked with doing the job of a $1 piece of plastic. The only upside would be the JIT stuff - but that could be accomplished by letting Blockbuster burn copies of movies on site - I'm sure it would be cheaper for them to invest in that sort of technology rather than go with the iPod as transport scheme.

      The reason downloadable movies are tricky is because not everyone has broadband and of the people who do have broadband, many don't
  • 1. iPod movies wouldn't sell enough copies to save Blockbuster from the impending Bankruptcy and shutdown of all locations that don't start renting porn.
    2. How many people who don't have iPods don't have broadband? I have a 6 mbps cable connection at home, and even though it's only about four blocks to the nearest Blockbuster, I'd still just download the movie and save myself the bother of leaving the house.

    This sounds at lot like those promised CD burning stations that never went anywhere, or the mp3 sale
  • Forget Blockbuster, Apple already has a network of retail stores covering the majority of the US population (as well as significant parts of other markets), already with high-speed net access, computers, etc, all they would need is an XServe RAID full of movies, and they could be loading up iPods (or DVD-R) all over the place. You could even queue up some content on the Apple website, and have it burned to DVD-R or ready to load on the iPod when you get to the store. There is definitely a market for this ty
    • Forget Blockbuster, Apple already has a network of retail stores covering the majority of the US population...

      There are very few Apple stores compared to Blockbuster. The nearest Apple store to me is more than 70 miles away, but there are 10 Blockbuster stores within 10 miles.

      From quick scan of Apple's list http://www.apple.com/retail [apple.com] it looks like about 35 or so U.S. states have Apple stores, with most of those having 3 or less stores serving the entire state. I don't know if that covers "the majority"

      • From quick scan of Apple's list http://www.apple.com/retail [apple.com] it looks like about 35 or so U.S. states have Apple stores, with most of those having 3 or less stores serving the entire state. I don't know if that covers "the majority" of the population or not, but even if you live in SoCal (with about 10 stores) there's likely more Blockbusters than Apple stores, and they're probably closer.

        And if you overlay that map with a map of where the NFL, NBA, and MLB teams are in the US, you will see that they alig

  • There's a good reason why iTunes doesn't do rentals: Imagine downloading an 8 GB hi-def video file, or even a 700 MB file, over a 1 mbitps connection, only to have it vanish off your HD in a few days. You'd spend many times as long downloading as watching it. With bricks and mortar downloading, the transport-to-consumption time ratio would be more reasonable.

    But I agree with another poster; this only requires a vending machine, not a whole store.
  • what's so new about this idea? Is it that it's blockbuster and its video? ...and what's with the fascination with xServes? Is it really necessary to use a specific Apple server product for this example? Couldn't any potential server do? Certainly for the author to make his point an xServe wouldn't be necessary.
  • firstly the current gen ipods are incredibly cool.

    massively sexier than previous generations.

    They also do good video right now.

    As I type one of my staff sitting behind me is using my ipod to watch a movie I ripped onto it last night (it's a slow day). It took 3 hours to convert the DVD and I had to buy it in the first place so buying the content over a USB line has some merit even for me. the other guy in the room is jealous and wants me to plug the ipod into the TV.

    my "right-now" ipod will do video and aud
  • This makes a wierd sort of sense. But if all Apple is going to do is drop a kiosk into every Blockbuster, why do they even need Blockbuster. Forget Blockbuster, they're dead. Think 7-11. There's way more convenience stores than blockbusters. Put your kiosks in them, like ATMs. Or in the food court at the mall. Next to the batteries at your super market. iTunes kiosks could be placed anywhere, forget outdated brick and mortar video stores.
  • Going to Blockbuster is old school. Ever since Netflix started their mailing DVD's I've cringed at having to actually GO to a Blockbuster.

    But I do have a question for all you iPod owners: is it really worth getting videos for iPod? Isn't the screen insanely small?
  • You don't need a theoretical new iPod that can do H.264 decoding in hardware and do more than just store videos. The iPod video plays videos, with a simple cable you can hook it up to your TV and play the videos on the TV. Oh, and it does H.264 decoding in hardware. Right now.
  • Why on earth would Apple go into business with a company that sucks as much balls as blockbuster; my favourite prediction I heard about Apple 18 months ago was that they're going to go on to offer full HD movies for download using iTMS (iTunes Movie Store :o) ).

    It looks increasingly as though they're creeping towards that model with iTMS, Steve Jobs' is now Disney's biggest shareholder, giving him power to start with Disney & Pixar's content (which would be well worth seeing in HD at home) and to ge
  • H.264 decoding takes place in the iPod in hardware.

    Really? H.264 is quite compute intensive. Does an iPod really pack this much power?

    And how about desired features like fast-forward and instantaneous skipping to the next scene?

  • I live in the Blueridge mountains of Virginia an hour west of DC. All I can get is dial-up. We don't have DSL, cable modem, and my 100 ft poplars and the mountain to my west prevent me from doing satellite. We are far enough out that I can't even get network TV. However, I have a 60 inch plasma HDTV and a Bose surround system and a library of 1,000 DVDs, a lot of which are documentaries, etc so my kids have something besides crap to watch (they read a lot). I visit a Blockbuster store once a week and it
  • How is this idea different than driving to Blockbuster, picking up a DVD, and driving home to watch it? I mean, besides creating a nice place for thieves to hang out where a lot of people will be walking around with expensive iPods.

Your own mileage may vary.

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