Remember that IBM ad a few years back in which a disheveled guy walks into a seedy hotel and asks about the video entertainment? The woman behind the desk tells him they have every movie ever made. Remember that?
Well, we're still not there yet. However, this week Blockbuster took a step closer to the digital 21st Century cineast fantasy by buying Movielink. Movielink is the online rental store that allows you to download flicks right to your PC. It was started in 2002 by five Hollywood studios (Sony Pictures, Universal, Paramount, MGM, and Warner Bros.). The site has had deep pockets and a wide variety of titles available, but the so-called "last 10 feet" problem has limited Movielink's (and similar sites') appeal. Afterall, who wants to watch Citizen Kane on their computer? (Okay, that was supposed to be a rhetorical question.)
The acquisition finally gives Blockbuster the ability to offer movies immediately for download. And it may be that the company's new CEO recognized that several changes in the market may augur a resolution of the last 10 feet problem. Namely, the coming of cable cards and increasing pressure from new high-speed entertainment (such as Fios).
Some stories emphasized the purchase as a way for Blockbuster to stave off Netflix, but the real story is about how video is on an inexorable decline—in favor of digitally delivered movies.
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