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Monday, April 03, 2006

In the Rush to Irrelevance, Baby Steps Count

You know that the movie industry has a great press machine when both the NY and LA Times carry stories about their latest efforts to prove that they have learned nothing from the last 7 years of media experience. You also know that the industry is on a long, slow march into irrelevance as both papers chose to lampoon their latest announcements rather then turn it into the usual piracy debate. The movie industry has clearly decided to follow in the footsteps of the record companies and pretend that people have no other options to its offering and are perfectly willing to pay more for less.

In a press release issued by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) the company touts the fact that its "digital sell-through business will commence with an initial slate of 75 titles that will include such films as Memoirs of a Geisha, Spider-Man 2, Taxi Driver, Barbershop, and Hitch." All of which can be downloaded for free, without restriction or registration in a shorter amount of time then either Cinemanow or MovieLink can deliver. The NY Times suggests that new movies may cost anywhere from $20 to $30 to download using either service and they will only be playable on your PC and they wont include any extra features commonly found on a DVD. Neither article offers any suggestions as to who would be willing to pay more for a less convenient product. Which by the way cost the industry less to offer to the user, since the cost of manufacturing is gone.

Both Dawn Chmielewski (writing for the LAT) and Saul Hansell (writing for NYT) see parallels between the movies industries current death march and the music industries trudge down the same road over 5 years ago. Its a marvel that no one in the movie industries seem to care. Ben Fiengold, Prexy of Digital Entertainment for Sony had this insightful comment to add, "Allowing consumers to download and own movies via their broadband Internet connection gives them more power to be entertained when and how they choose." Yes and its called BitTorrent.

The following mantra needs to be burned into the foreheads of anyone thinking about offering a media product for online use:
People aren't purchasing products online they are purchasing services and your service has to offer greater convenience, greater access, greater control, greater flexibility or a lower price to be valuable.


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