Thursday, March 31, 2005

Why Sony's iTunes for Movies is Dumb. A better idea

Sony wants to do "iTunes for Movies" (BBC story):
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4396481.stm
This would be for portables (like the PSP and probably phones).
This only makes marginal sense as a business model (a little better as a technology). A better idea would be to sell TV shows they day after broadcast for $2/pop.
At least Sony partnered with a few other studios so it's not only Sony Pictures content that will be available. But if they partnered with Networks/TV production companies they would have a much better product to sell over an iTunes-like store for the in
There are a lot of reasons why cloning the iTunes model for movies makes so much less sense than selling TV shows:
1) The movie customer really wants to watch the content on his TV, not mobile device, so this is a peripheral market (how often do non-airplane trapped people want to sit down and watch a 2 hour movie on a tiny screen?). Compare to the real iTunes where portable players and computers are becoming the primary playback method for music. So movie content for portables is a much smaller market.
2) Most songs are sold 1 song at a time. Some whole albums are sold. But even a whole album is a much smaller $ unit than a movie. And also a much smaller download.
3) iTunes song quality is equal (as far as most consumers are concerened) to CD quality. Portable distributed movies are VHS quality - not DVD quality, so the customers isn't getting the quality they would want. The quality expectation for series TV is lower than for DVDs.
4) Movies are a much bigger download than TV shows. How long will a customer want to wait for their purchase to be on the portable device?
So I think Sony is blindly mimicking the iTunes strategy without really understanding the market or even the technology issues.
But like I said, if they did the same thing with TV episodes (day-of or day-after broadcast) they could do very well - if they charged $2/episode or something.

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