Why worry about creating the next iTunes, lining up movie studios and entering the Web's movie download war when you can just supply the arms?
Sounds like a decent plan and one that Hewlett-Packard is pursuing. Lost in the conversation about Wal-Mart's movie download site is that HP's technology is running it in the background.
And if Wal-Mart succeeds--today's performance has been spotty--HP will have a great reference customer to pitch its wares elsewhere. Don't underestimate how big of a deal this is for HP. When it comes to media services IBM is perceived as a technology leader and has major video clients such as NFL Films.
But if HP can offer turnkey solutions--dubbed Video Merchant Services--to anyone that wants to be a video download player it'll be quite a coup. HP is also adding a few neat features, including one where you can track related movies by actor.
The challenge for HP is landing more customers. Wal-Mart is a big flagship customer, but the market is crowded despite the fact there are no clear winners.