Wal-Mart splashed into the downloadable video world today by announcing that they're selling digital copies of movies from ALL of the major studios on their new website. But the behemoth that is Wal-Mart decided to disregard cross platform entirely and only support Windows. Why do that when there is a perfectly good cross platform video solution with Flash? Because of DRM.
In the long run, the lack of DRM in Flash probably won't be a big deal. I hate DRM as much as the next person and I think it's a waste of time (as we've seen by how quickly Blu-ray and HD-DVD were cracked). But right now, in order to bring the major studios on (which means movies people actually want to watch), Wal-Mart had to go with a DRM solution. That means no Linux and no Mac. From the FAQ:
What operating systems do you support?
We currently support Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Vista (32 bit only no Macintosh or Linux)
Now the prognosis for Wal-Mart's latest move isn't good. Om thinks it's probably DOA and Mike notes how crowded this space is. Both valid points, but the fact remains, Wal-Mart is the only place I can go to get movies that I give damn about.
As said as it is, DRM is still an issue. I wonder what kind of revenue this brings in for Microsoft, and what kind of revenue could it have brought in for Adobe had they been able to license a DRM'd video solution. In the end, customers lose because Wal-Mart figures they can live without the other 5%. They don't even support the Firefox browser on their website. But this also puts a pretty bright spotlight on "WPF/E". If it can provide a cross-platform way to deliver DRM'd windows media, then suddenly Wal-Mart can offer videos to more customers. Is that something they're looking into? How important is cross-platform? How important is DRM? Wal-Mart's success or failure with their new store may tell us.