Retail juggernaut Wal-Mart has decided to dip a toe in the baby end of the downloadable movie business, offering customers who buy a copy of Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns on DVD the opportunity to download the same movie for use on a PC or portable device. For $1.97, users will be able to download the movie for use on a portable device; for $2.97 users can download it for use on a desktop or notebook computer, and for $3.97, you can download for both. The offer comes by way of a promotional code printed on a sticker with the DVD.
Some news coverage reports the downloadable version for portable players will work with iPods, but it’s not true: the download service requires Windows Media Player 10, and is only compatible with PlaysForSure-compatible devices. Ironically, this means they won’t work on a Zune, either. Linux and Macintosh systems are not supported. Movie files can be backed up to DVD, but cannot be burned to DVD for playback in standard DVD players.
"This unique Superman Returns physical/digital DVD combination not only marks our first step into the video downloads market, but gives our customers the best of both worlds in movie entertainment," said Kevin Swint, Wal-Mart’s divisional merchandise manager for digital media, in a statement. "They have the DVD as a collectible and for viewing on their home theaters, plus the freedom to download and watch the movie on multiple devices."
Wal-Mart plans to test the download option with additional movie titles in the future. But let’s remember: Wal-Mart dipped toes into the music download and social networking spaces with less than stellar success. One wonders: have they learned anything from those experiences?
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