When I opened up my New York Times business section today and saw the headline: At Last, Movies to Keep Arrive on the Internet, I got very excited. Finally, I would be able to cheer Hollywood for developing a new innovative online business model for distributing movies. We believe that such business models are the key to limiting illegal downloading of movies. Then I kept reading.
First, the price of a new movie download will cost $20-$30. So despite the fact that Hollywood will have no packaging costs and almost no distribution costs, the price of the download will be as much, and in some cases more, than a physical DVD (Sony is the exception to this rule). Oh, and by the way, these downloads don't come with the same extra features as do a DVD. I'm very surprised at how addicted I've become to the extra features. I spent as much time this weekend watching the great extras on the DVD of Murderball as I did watching the terrific move.
Second, the different services offer fairly limited types of usage. CinemaNow will allow movies to be played on only one computer. Movielink will allow you to burn it to a DVD, which can be played on a computer, but not a regular DVD player. (Movielink will not function on a Mac or Linux operated computer either). None allows you to copy to an iPod or other MP3 player. Watching a downloaded movie on a TV is not impossible, but it is inconvenient.
So while I applaud the movie studios for finally dipping their toe in the Internet download water, they have done little to ensure the success of this new business. Giving the consumer less content and functionality for a higher price is not the way to encourage adoption. Maybe I am wrong, but if I am right, I hope the studios will rework their services to better meet consumer needs and desires.