Saturday, December 29, 2007

Even the Mighty Wal-Mart Can Get it Wrong

Wal-Mart has withdrawn its online video download service which it pioneered with Hewlett Packard only a year ago. Wal-Mart was the first major retailer to partner with all of the major Hollywood movie studios and TV networks to offer downloads the same day titles were released on DVD. The service was launched in February and was hailed by media industry experts as a "game changer" that could introduce millions of DVD buyers to the practice of downloading.
Videos purchased on can be played using the Microsoft Windows Media Player or the Wal-Mart Video Download Manager, but cannot be transferred to a computer other than the one used to download them. Wal-Mart will continue offering physical DVDs for sale at its stores and online

HP spokesman Hector Marinez said the company decided to discontinue its video download-only merchant store services because the market for paid video downloads did not perform "as expected."

The Internet video business remains uncertain and is changing rapidly and this move shows that even the big players can get their digital moves wrong. Who would expect Wal-Mart, HP and the major studios to get it wrong? However, we must also look to the digital success stories and ask if we expected them to get it right? What is clear is that there are many experimental services right across the digital arena and predicting success is often down to making money or as Amazon proved sustainable cash flow.

Today we look back at some of the services that didn’t make it, wrong technology, wrong business model or just wrong time.