Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Surprise! Walmart’s Cloud Movie Service Is Pretty Good!

I am very, very skeptical about Walmart’s new “disc to digital” service, where you pay money to convert your old DVDs into files you can access from the cloud.

Who wants to haul their discs to a store — and take out their credit card — to do something that should work at home, for free?

BTIG Research’s Rich Greenfield has the same take, more or less. But Greenfield has actually gone ahead and tried the service out (registration required), and he thinks the experience itself is … really good:

“We believe Vudu is a very well done iVOD/EST service and, at worst, Vudu will gain far greater consumer awareness from the industry’s disc-to-digital marketing campaign.”

I still think the overall concept is flawed here. If Hollywood wants people to embrace this idea, which is designed to promote high-margin movie purchases instead of lower-margin rentals, it shouldn’t involve travel and an upfront payment.

And some of the fine print will trip people up, as well. As I noted last month, Walmart’s scheme comes with some important asterisks, like the fact that Disney/Pixar titles won’t work, and that iPad users can only stream the files to their machine, and can’t download them.

But give Walmart credit for a digital product that seemingly does at least some of what it ought to do, right out of the box. Greenfield has a seven-minute walk-through of the process (spoiler: contains no violence, nudity or adult themes), if you’re interested:

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik