Wal-Mart is one of the most successful brick-and-morter retailers out there. Still, it’s a bit surprising when the company is in the vanguard for electronic retailing. They recently announced that they will be offering download versions of DVD movies. The interesting wrinkle is that you have to buy the physical DVD as well; only then can you download the movie for your portable video device or PC/laptop. The downloads will cost about $2 to $4, depending on the format. According to a Wal-Mart press release, the company also plans to start testing a beta version of a download service for movie and television content, separate from buying a physical DVD.
This hybrid deal from Wal-Mart is interesting, but I’m not sure how much traction it will have. Most laptops and PCs already have DVD drives, and could play the physical DVD that you purchase in order to get the download. I suppose that there are some folks who would want to download a movie to their cell phone or video MP3 player, but early results indicate that these U.S. consumers are not likely to watch video content on these devices. (The percentages are higher in Asia, by the way.) I expect that the straight download without the DVD will be a more attractive deal, especially if it costs less than the physical DVD.