Wal-Mart recently gave up on their video downloading service after only one year. The service, which was run by Hewlett Packard, allowed Wal-Mart customers to download movie titles on the same day as their DVD release. Their initial move into video downloading was seen as a “watershed” event because Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer of traditional DVDs. Apparently, the downloading business was not what they had hoped. Or was it they didn’t feel like they had enough control and ownership. Multichannel News is now reporting that Wal-Mart is looking for another download solution, and may get back in the download business.
Multichannel News says that Wal-Mart is looking for a solution with the proper DRM rights which allow for burning of the downloaded video to a DVD for future playback. Such a service would allow subscribers to “buy” the title, rather than just rent it like some download services offer today. Wal-Mart’s potential reentry into the download business does not appear to be imminent. But why the quick turn around? Why didn’t Wal-Mart refine its existing solution instead of scrapping it and starting over? Maybe the terms wouldn’t’ allow it. Whatever the case, Wal-Mart’s potential move for VOD could have serious competitive implications for solutions like Apple’s iTunes video downloads and Amazon’s Unbox service, as well as on triple play service providers who are exploring video download solutions of their own.