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Both HMV and Play.com want to launch download-to-own movie offerings – the former by the start of 2008, the latter within a few weeks, NMA says. One’s a former high street entertainment retail powerhouse, now racing to make up the shortfall from the decline in physical consumption, the other an online upstart stealing brand loyalty from bricks and mortar retailers. But it’s not surprising either is planning movie downloads – as broadband speeds go up, so, too (they hope) – do customers’ eagerness to dispense with DVD clutter.
HMV’s (LSE: HMV) annual profits plummeted around 50 percent in April, when it said it aims for 20 percent of its sales to come from its website by 2010. It already offers digital music downloads (to those with Windows Xp, Internet Explorer 6 and ActiveX enabled). E-commerce director Gideon Lask told NMA he “doesn’t want an eight-tonne gorilla to place itself in the room like iTunes did in the music industry”, with download-to-own movie services coming soon from iTunes and Amazon. Despite being a dedicated online retailer, Play.com still only deals in atoms, not bits. The challenge is clear – May YouGov research showed only 14 percent of UK internet users have downloaded a full movie online, but 65 percent would be “fairly” or “very” interested to do so if platforms were quicker and easier.