No Flash or WPF/E in the Wal-Mart movie deal hurts customers

No Flash or WPF/E in the Wal-Mart movie deal hurts customers

Summary: 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.

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Where's Flash or WPF/E in the Wal-Mart Movie Deal?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.

Topic: Software Development

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17 comments
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  • DRM and WPF/E

    I think I read that WPF/E plans on supporting DRM in the first release. This isn't going to be easy as the WPF/E plugin will need to set-up a license database on non-windows platforms. It will also probably lack any sort of license management (backup etc) - not that windows has this anyway.
    joe1972
    • RE: DRM and WPF/E

      Yup, WPF/E is supposed to support some subset of DRM. I'm not sure they've talked about specifics. But you're right, it's going to be kind of tough to do, so we'll see how deeply it's supported. Thanks Joe!
      ryanstewart
  • Walmart and Art?

    Uh no thanks. Like they do in their stores, I'm sure the'll carry only the Republican-ized cut movies. I don't want their watered down versions of anything. Not to mention - their web dev team completely ignored Firefox users.

    http://www.boingboing.net/2007/02/06/walmarts_new_downloa.html

    Stay away from everything Walmart.
    TomHobbes
    • RE: Walmart and Art?

      That Firefox fiasco is just crazy. How in the hell could they have not supported Firefox right off the bat? Whoever thought that was a good idea should be forced to use Lynx to browse the web.
      ryanstewart
  • Why?

    Let's see exclusive deal for windows users, Wal-Mart to move to MS's partner
    Novell for Linux rather than RedHat. Why?

    Microsoft's COO, Kevin Turner, is the former CIO of Wal-Mart.

    Though not popular in the IT press to report such details, nor investigate what
    deal Turner brokered for Wal-Mart we should inform ourselves of the grime
    behind MS PR.

    Would be nice if someone asked a few questions about these latest deals, but I
    won't hold my breath.
    Richard Flude
    • Grime?

      like the Disney/Pixar/Apple deals?
      There is a heck of a lot more 'PR grime' there.

      MS is no more underhanded then any of the rest, which, if you think about it, shouldn't give anyone the warm fuzzies.
      mdemuth
      • Public vs grime

        "Disney/Pixar/Apple deals"

        The relationship between these entities is very public. This is not the case here.
        Richard Flude
    • RE: Why?

      Interesting...I wonder if Mary Jo picked up on that.
      ryanstewart
  • Real simple

    Linux desktop doesn't exist globally (or at least it's below 0.001%) and let's face it, eunuchs don't want to pay for anything. Apple users may reach 3% globally, but they don't do anything without paying through the nose to Apple and I'm sure Apple will once again force them under an Apple only rock. That leaves the rest of us using Windows and that's where the money is.

    Simple decision really.
    TonyMcS
    • What?

      "0.001%" ?

      Based on what?

      I would bet that the number of Linux users rivals the number of Mac users but it's difficult to determine as there is no way to track total Linux installs.

      There are plenty of us who pay for our FOSS as a matter of choice to support the creators of FOSS.

      Your post is just silly and uninformed.
      Tim Patterson
    • RE: Real simple

      "pple users may reach 3% globally, but they don't do anything without paying through the nose to Apple and I'm sure Apple will once again force them under an Apple only rock."

      Hah! I love that quote.
      ryanstewart
  • Walmart?s use of DRM will ensure service will be DOA

    I think this is the time for independent media to really seize an opportunity for growth. Given that traditional media are completely deaf to the wishes of their customers concerning the use of DRM, independent media that are sensitive to their customers? wishes can now significantly grow against their established competitors.

    I think it is time for much of traditional media to die. Internet and other types of radio stations should increasingly promote independent media, and try to wean themselves away from traditional music companies. Independent film / video companies should focus on making great, solid works that get distributed without DRM restrictions. Some of these companies could create HD quality videos that people could freely use in their homes. The videos could be anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours or more long. Merely saying that their content has no DRM restrictions will be a huge selling point for them.

    The Walmart service will definitely fail because of DRM. In the meanwhile, independent media should seize the opportunity to outmode traditional media and grow significantly.
    P. Douglas
    • RE: Walmart?s use of DRM will ensure service will be DOA

      Well said! If we can give those independent folks a good distribution system that compensates them, I think that idea could explode! I hope that happens soon.
      ryanstewart
    • Mega media already dead.

      Right now you are watching the record companies go through rigor mortis. We are one company away from being able to throw the dirt on them. They have bungled the music industry so badly for so long that many artists and fans have no interest in sending a penny to them no matter what they do. The core of the free media movement has been mostly inspired by the dictorial greed that the record companies have inflicted on us for years.

      Hollywood doesn't have the same kind of hatred but the quality of movies has been mostly steadily declining. The ability for a small crew of people on a tiny budget to create a first rate film is not far off. In fact some mainstream movies if you exclude the budget for actors is already pretty much there. Once that happens Hollywood is as doomed as the record companies. As much by the garbage they have foisted on us for years and memories about how hard they fought to keep us captive.

      Right now the media giants are trying to dam the ocean itself. They can't. The genie is out and man is he PO'd. The more they fight the new market the more anger they generate and the less chance they have of adapting to the new markets that are developing. If any of them had an ounce of insight they could continue making huge sums of money and leading the new market. Instead they are building a wave of resentment and anger that will bury them no matter what they do.
      draciron@...
  • Bad Business Decision

    Firefox users may only be 5-10% of all users, but likely they are 35% or even more of all users technically comfortable enough to try downloading a movie over the web.

    Wal-Mart's decision to support only Win/IE may hurt them more than their (non-technical?) marketing department realizes.
    Lantera
    • RE: Bad Business Decision

      Yeah, it's unfathomable that they would not have thought out the Firefox issues. Very shortsighted.
      ryanstewart
  • What company can ignore that much of the market

    Actually it's probably closer to %20. Figure the Mac market share, Linux market share and those using older versions of Windows or on hardware that just cannot run the latest greatest Microsoft media junk. Converting formats will be simple enough. However the page is horribly mangled with Firefox 2.0 under Linux.

    As for DRM, by the end of the week that will be defeated. DRM doesn't work. Shouldn't be attempted. It is like trying to drink up the ocean to avoid drowning while a perfectly good boat is sitting next too you.

    The lack of Firefox support is the bigger issue. More neutral sites are reporting at least half the hits as Firefox. So they are ignoring a huge chunk of their potential customers. You actually have to work at writing an IE only web site nowdays. So they actually spent more money to run customers off than if they'd just done up a neutral site that everybody could view.
    draciron@...