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January 5, 2007

Studios OK Downloading Films to Disk Via Kiosks

Sonic Solutions, manufacturers of the Roxio brand of burning software, has come up with a technology that allows the creation of DVDs from downloaded films.  Moreover, the resultant DVDs will play on any machine.  This means consumers should be able to buy DVDs of films not normally available on the shelves of retailers limited to the currently popular. All that's necessary is a kiosk (Walgreen's is already planning on installing them), a new disc format, a new burner that can handle the new disc format, and consumer faith in the concept. 

And, oh yes, a marketing plan that appeals to consumers.  That last one has always been a stumbling block for studios and marketers alike.  The lack of burning capability has been a big turn-off to consumers who actually wanted something permanent for the money.  Speaking of money, that's been the other sticking point, as the content has usually been limited to films in stereo with no extra features at a higher price than standard DVDs.  The studios have long been happy to accept that minor revenue stream provided it did not interfere with their regular unit marketing.

The new system, called Qflix, also avoids the lack of easy portability which also dogged downloads.  Views were typically limited to the single computer.  Most consumers wanted television viewing.  That was accomplished by buying somewhat expensive add-on hardware to home networks dedicated to that purpose.  Still, that equipment never got around the issue of paying the same price or more for an inferior product.

Qflix comes with a lot of promise to provide sales opportunities and give consumers what they want.  The studios went for it because it uses the same CSS DRM system that standard DVDs use.  They believe this will limit piracy opportunities which was their stumbling block.  This one is a little curious as the standard DVD copy protection system was broken years ago and the software is in wide circulation.  If nothing else, this development represents a breakthrough in the mindset of studios hostile to digital downloads.  Let's hope they don't bog it down with lousy features and a price point to ignore.  After all, downloads are competing with formats from the same source.  The studios and download services seem not to have figured that one out.

Stories are in CNN, and Channel 14 News from Charlotte.

January 5, 2007 | Permalink

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