The New York Times’ usually entertaining David Pogue (love those video clips, David) has a rather bland take on the three US DVD by mail services. Ultimately he ranks Netflix “the service king,” with it’s “highly evolved features.” Blockbuster is deemed “the value king,” with its $3/mo. cheaper price and free in-store rentals. Wal-Mart, the laggard, is not “a winner.” An interesting factoid is that Blockbuster plans to decrease its shipping times and increase its number of shipping points by an astounding “15,000 percent” by mailing out of all of its 4,500 stores. Beat that you puny Internet company.
It all does raise the larger question of why in fact, Blockbuster and Wal-Mart are getting into the game instead of torpedoing the whole idea with existing on-demand technologies? Surely deckchairs and Titanic come to mind. Here in San Francisco, Comcast offers a fairly impressive array of movies on demand, both free and for-fee. Netflix has announced a deal with TiVo to offer a similar service via their set top boxes, but Blockbuster’s widely familiar brand should allow them to weasel into this space somehow. “Comcast On-Demand powered by Blockbuster” could turn some heads.