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Television Media

Blockbuster Working on Set-Top Box 138

An anonymous reader writes "According to the Hollywood Reporter and, Blockbuster will soon be announcing yet another reason not to go to a rental store. A media-delivering set-top box is in the works for the company, leveraging the store's existing competence in the industry to provide a viable alternative to iTunes, Xbox Live, and Amazon. 'There was no mention of price or how such a service would work in the report. But let's think about this: to compete with Apple TV or Vudu, the device would have to cost around $200, and rentals of movies and TV shows should be around $3 to $4 each, which would be slightly cheaper than rentals of new releases from Blockbuster currently. The big advantage Blockbuster would enjoy over Apple TV, Vudu, and TiVo, it seems, would be selection.'" I still think they're kinda doomed.
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Blockbuster Working on Set-Top Box

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  • by athloi ( 1075845 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @06:18PM (#23030352) Homepage Journal
    I still think they're kinda doomed.

    Me too. For the last two decades, people have looked at their computers and wanted the things to be information centers. That includes media, business information, personal contacts, everything through recipes and music.

    Read our lips, big corporations. We don't want more gadgets. We want our gadgets to get more powerful and less unreliable so they save us time and make life more relaxing, not more gadgety.
    • by beckerist ( 985855 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @06:27PM (#23030422) Homepage
      I would be more apt to enter into a service, where the hardware I buy would be generic. Sort of like Napster is now for all "compatible" music players.

      Basically, I want some company like Logitech to build a sweet-ass DVR-type box with the ability to CHOOSE which services I want to download/buy from.
      • by Sancho ( 17056 ) *
        I think that's ultimately the problem. With traditional physical formats, competing formats eventually die off as one format rises above the rest.

        With set-top media centers, it seems like everyone and his brother is making one. If all of the content is available to all of them, then it mostly doesn't matter. But once a major studio gets enough of a donation to be exclusive to one device, it's going to be all over. We'll have another HDDVD/Bluray war where half of the consumers lose.

        There's a reason for
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Sort of like Napster is now for all "compatible" music players.
        Bullshit! Napster isn't compatible with my Dixie cup and string!
      • Well stated.

        I'd buy the roku device, if it ever came to market. I love my soundbridge. Great price, documented network control protocol, links to a nice listing service so you have pretty much nothing to set up. Good stuff.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @06:34PM (#23030488) Homepage

      Give me a service that will work with my non MS media center PC and I'll be all over it.

      NONE of them work with the decent media centers, only a couple that kind of work with the crappy Windows MCE product.

      I want a mediaportal plugin or a MythTV plugin etc...

      support standards not specalized DRM.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by NightLamp ( 556303 )
      I don't know, I think BB has the potential to create a pretty gadgety set-top-box. Each brick & mortar location could become in effect an ISP and data-centre housing cached (edge network) copies of the movies. I think there is a competitive advantage in there somewhere.
      Add in Internet and ad-sponsored rentals and maybe this is a picture of what they're thinking -
      "a data-centre in evey BB dumpster".
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      ..and history of milking their position in the market.

      Years ago, when there was really no major competitor to Blockbuster besides local mom and pop operations - they took advantage of it with $5 plus dollar a pop movies and ridiculous late return policies.

      Blockbuster joined Bellsouth in the "won't see another dime of my family's budget" bucket. And I based that decision completely on their actions when they had little or no competition, and not on current technology & trends.

      Conversely, the companies t
  • Exit Strategy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I think it's time for Blockbuster to execute their exit strategy. I agree, they are doomed. With all of the existing machines listed providing similar capabilities, why would someone buy yet *another* box to hook up to their TV? And there's also Redbox....
    • If they were smart, Blockbuster (or better yet, Netflix) would partner with someone (like LG) to market a TV with built in downloading capabilities.

      Hell, if they were REALLY smart they could even try to pass a standard for downloading streams, and have it built in to EVERY television (then they could all fight over our downloading subscription fees, the way cable companies SHOULD be fighting over our cable fees).
    • Re:Exit Strategy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @06:54PM (#23030682) Journal
      I was commenting earlier about how many businesses are going to fail in the recession due to tight margins now that won't maintain them under duress of less custom.

      If, and IMO, IF they want to stay relevant and solvent, what they need to do is keep away from lock-in business models and get on with 'we work with anything' business models. Yes, that would make for weak competition according to some, but if all you had to do was go to Blockbuster and ask the tech guy what to do to get all the movies you can handle, then sign up for their business/app/service they would only win.

      Even better if the same system they sell or advocate supports anything else that is not damned^H^H^H^H DRM'd .... but sadly, big business doesn't think that way, no, they want everyone's share of the pie, or at least everyone eating from their pie and nobody else's. Shame really, they have a lot of assets/resources to push the home video/DVR arena into common practice.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by roc97007 ( 608802 )

      Perhaps what Blockbuster needs to do is provide a free application that runs on any computer that interfaces with their infrastructure, so you could rent and view video without buying a set-top box. I mean, the box is usually a loss-leader anyway -- the money is in rentals over the long term. So why bother inventing a new box?

      What Blockbuster's differentiation could be is to provide a player that plays well full screen with 5.1 or 7.1 sound (*not* in a browser) and plugs-into popular media center softw

      • by FLEB ( 312391 )
        I think a box of some sort would have to be involved, even if just as one option out of many. For most people, a software-only method means being stuck at a computer, be it sitting in the office watching movies, or clearing a space for the laptop. Few people have the hardware, experience, or inclination to make a generic PC into a media machine, and being restricted to a computer makes the service much less popularly useful.
        • Until people realize how ridiculously simple it is to connect a S-Video out cable from the PC to their TV. It seems like most of the decent mid-range to high-end video cards are coming with this option these days,... only the low-end, budget PCs with integrated graphics don't have S-Video.

          Now that most of the television content producers are putting their stuff on the internet these days, I'm seriously contemplating just getting another computer solely to use for the television connectivity. Seriously. Wh

          • only the low-end, budget PCs with integrated graphics don't have S-Video.

            That's pretty much every computer that's not custom built. I know in my area (dominated by BB and Future Shop) pretty much every computer has integrated graphics.

            But, seriously, you expect "normal" people to look at the back of thier computer, look at the ports, recognise that there is a S-video port, realise that thier TV also has this port, and connect the dots. -- This still does not include getting sound from the comput

            • Hmm, good point. My mother and even my brother (two years younger) both think I'm performing some kind of weird magic when they see me connect my computer to the television,... But I do it on an almost daily basis now, so it's really no big deal.
            • Dunno, most people tend to realise that the DVD player, XBox and whatnot connect to the TV. Computers tend not to be that visible.

              Maybe if thee was a cable, bright red, and the packaging was a bit more "in your face", then more people would connect their computer.

              Anyway, between ripping my own DVDs and as many downloads as my ADSL can handle, I've nearly maxxed a 500GB drive in my chipped XBOX. XBOX media center is just great. Any product with a set top box will just have to beat that.

              And that won't be eas
          • Until people realize how ridiculously simple it is to connect a S-Video out cable from the PC to their TV.
            That's funny. I thought I was the only person on the planet that even owned an S-Video cable (that I haven't used since I got rid of my 15-year old RCA 35" CRT that came with 'cutting edge' S-Video input).
            • Oh yeah, not to mention, S-video only carries video, you still need to run sound. Now you've got three wires coming off the back of your computer that is a) probably under a desk somewhere, and b) not near your living room TV (sorry to respond to own post, but still getting used to the new posting system on here)
  • Why would I buy another set-top box? Unless it can do everything that TiVo can do and better/cheaper, why bother?

    Why am I going to buy an AppleTV/vudu that's a TiVo that can't record live TV?
  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @06:22PM (#23030380)
    Why pay $200 for a box where your cable box can do the same thing with on demand with out eating up your internet bandwidth.
    • by Ucklak ( 755284 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @06:55PM (#23030692)
      Can your cable box get you Robocop, Twin Peaks, or La Planete Savauge when you want it or just whatever the media companies decide what you should choose from?
      • Can your cable box get you Robocop, Twin Peaks, or La Planete Savauge...?

        That's only a problem if you actually want to watch Robocop, Twin Peaks, or La Planete Savauge...

        • "La Planete Savauge..."

          I wanted to watch this film. Even with Netflix, I had to wait for it to become available on DVD. I would never have seen it if I had cable TV.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Probably not, but then neither will Blockbuster, unless, you know the movie was a blockbuster. So, forget about La Planete....

        The point is, Blockbuster was never famous for carrying a wide range of titles anyways. Compare them to Netflix and you will see why. So, your argument is correct but self-defeating at the same time!!
        • The point is, Blockbuster was never famous for carrying a wide range of titles anyways.
          That's why I call them Lackluster Video, and get my rentals from one of the few remaining independent video rental shops or from Netflix.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by OPR8R ( 1253054 )
      Some people will do anything to rid themselves of Comcast...
  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @06:25PM (#23030406) Homepage
    It's doomed because of the major ISPs. Be it Cable or Telco, the service would consume more bandwidth than they have allocated to their customers. Second, it competes with same services they offer.
  • Perhaps their only chance is to loss lead with a consumer friendly rental package of content, just to get the devices in houses. However, unless they get pretty reasonable penetration, I can't see it working.
    • by Knowzy ( 950793 )
      Blockbuster's new management are not fans of loss-leaders. They are the ones who doubled the price Total Access plan (Netflix's competitor) from $17.99 to $34.99 in less than 6 months. Then again, I'm not sure how else they will get a device designed just for the their customer base without taking a loss.
  • You can easily make a box that streams videos for a retail price of $200. Probably even high definition. Blockbuster could no doubt tie it to a service, and take a hit on it to promote their service. Offer a subscription service that allows a selection of videos with popular movies at a premium and they can cover their capital costs in a few months.
  • missing the boat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dzimas ( 547818 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @06:41PM (#23030554)

    The big advantage Blockbuster would enjoy over Apple TV, Vudu, and TiVo, it seems, would be selection.

    Bzzt, wrong. Blockbuster will still have to negotiate licensing agreements with the major distribution companies, just like everyone else in the game. They can't simply rip their existing DVD offerings and stream them to customers. Blockbuster's in a tough spot here; if they remain a dealer of physical media, they'll get pummeled by streaming content. Their only hope for survival is to leverage their brand and physical locations to introduce a set-top box that grabs sizable market share. The trouble is that a video rental chain is going to have an extremely difficult time going head to head with the likes of Apple. It'd be like a record chain introducing an mp3 player in the hope that they can prevent iTunes and Amazon from decimating them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Knowzy ( 950793 )

      Bzzt, wrong. Blockbuster will still have to negotiate licensing agreements with the major distribution companies, just like everyone else in the game.

      Blockbuster is planning on streaming their Movielink library which includes ~6,000 titles. Nearly double Netflix's Watch Instantly selection with 3,800 titles [].

      They have a huge head start in terms of licensing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MushMouth ( 5650 )
        Except Movielink doesn't have 6000 titles available for rent, they currently have ~1700. It appears that they have more available for purchase, but that is all they have for rent, which is most likely covered by a different agreement.
      • by Dzimas ( 547818 )
        I suspect there's a clause in their Movielink licensing that specifically ties rentals and purchases through the system to a personal computer. Media companies tend to get especially jumpy when someone trots out a new media box for the living room, especially if it offers analog outputs... and I can't see Blockbuster wanting to restrict their set top box to HDMI equipped TVs at this point in the game.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by grotgrot ( 451123 )
      An alternative that takes advantage of their existing stores is that the device takes some sort of memory stick which you fill at the store with the content. That way they can rent digital content, and you won't have to return it. It will be quicker to put several movies on a memory stick at a store than download for quite a while. And having the settop box means they don't have to worry about getting it working with a general purpose desktop machine with all the resulting issues, can lock it down to the
      • Why would I want a service that requires me to travel to a B&M to get digital media? With a little foresight, Netflix + DVR provide more than enough content.
        • If they can use their existing rental agreements then they will have way more content. Secondly not everyone has an ISP that provides multi megabits a second uninterrupted for however long it takes to download movies. In fact I can't even get that where I live (coastal Californian town near Silicon Valley). Lastly it would Just Work(tm).

          Comparing to Netflix - they don't provide instant gratification for using physical media. For their download service, you have a limited choice, and you have to have a W
    • by EMeta ( 860558 )
      But for all of its inevitable future woes, Blockbuster remains the movie industry's top consumer (they need a LOT more stock than Netflix). That gives them a good bit of leverage in discussions with studios. Also, I'm betting studios would like to give Blockbuster a hand up so they don't just deal with Netflix 10 years from now.
  • Is for blockbuster to preload each of these boxes with 1-2TB of movies already, with monthly service contract to access the whole catalog. Additionally, they would have to send out new HDD's every so often with additional content. The Set-Top Box market is already full of on demand options. Unfortunately, knowing blockbuster they will make a 1/2 assed last minute effort to copy someone else who is way ahead of them (Netflix? anyone).
    • I could see it working with flash based media. Think about it, you go into Blockbuster with your "BlockStick" or whatever they want to call it, you go to the counter, pick your movie, take it home and plug it into your "BlockBox". It would, of course use some heavy DRM. No more media to return and cheap movies. With some hacks, i could see this being used on the PS& or XBox*. It replace scratchy disks and crappy players. I think i would love to be able to do this, especially if they provide me with an
    • Netflix and LG are almost ready to roll their set top box out that ties into the "Watch It Now" feature of the Netflix site.
  • This won't work, pretty obviously. But I think Blockbuster will be around for quite a while, because I think physical dvd rentals will be around for quite a while. About half the time I rent a dvd, it's because I need something to watch pretty much immediately. Few people have the bandwidth for downloads to fill that need. Netflix and the Blockbuster mail-delivery programs both work great, but don't fulfill the instant gratification need, either. And neither rents videogames! (What a tremendous lack.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by letsief ( 1053922 )
      I take it you haven't tried Netflix's Watch Now. You get surprisingly good quality video from cable modem speed internet. I don't think I've ever had to wait more than 10 seconds at the beginning of playback for it to finish buffering. No, its not quite DVD quality, but it's better than SDTV. That's probably good enough for most people. I think streaming video would work, from a technical perspective, for a lot of people today. I think it hasn't caught on yet because 1) the current lack of an easy way
    • That's why Netflix offers "Instant" movies and tv shows, sure it's not the entire library but they're unlimited now and they're constantly adding more. Unfortunately it's only available for Windows, but it's still a nice addition to their already exceptional service at no extra cost. []
  • Maybe we'll get a better codec out of this, like we did when DivX failored?
  • hooray! (Score:3, Funny)

    by sneakyimp ( 1161443 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @06:50PM (#23030642)
    I can't wait to start paying late fees when my computer can't download their movies fast enough due to my poor broadband service!
    • You might want to check Blockbuster's current policy on late fees. They don't have late fees anymore. They just threaten to make you buy the dvd if you don't bring it back within the week. Personally, I prefer the traditional late fee :-)
  • Will this go the same way Circuit City's ill-fated DIVX movie rental system goes?
  • Existing Competence? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by greenslashpurple ( 1236792 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @06:55PM (#23030690)
    I tried using Blockbustre for a while. But their utter incompetence at renting DVD-based products ultimately drove me away. First off they only sell you the 'child safe' versions of a lot of DVDs, so you never even get to see what the director actually intended. Once I tried going through the whole Alias program. They were missing a disk right in the middle of the last season (which I didn't find out about until I tried to rent it). They said they could not, and would not order the disk, and that this kind of thing happened all the time. And of course there were months when each time I came in they would beg me to do the online thing. The last straw was when I went to rent two movies at normal price and the clerk told me I was throwing that money away compared to what it would cost to get it online. I realized she was right, and after that I went to Netflix, and never went back. I think Blockbustre is like that Real Player company, once you've proven to be beyond a doubt how evil you are at your chosen field of business, I will NEVER go back to you.
    • by martinX ( 672498 )

      I tried using Blockbustre ... I think Blockbustre is like that...
      Are you French by any chance?
  • Enron Redux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jherek Carnelian ( 831679 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @07:04PM (#23030764)
    They tried this already... []

    and we all know how well THAT worked out.
    • Funny stuff. If it wasn't on Forbes I would have thought it a joke :)

      "Network provider Enron Broadband Services, a subsidiary of Enron ene (nyse: ene), partnered with Blockbuster bbi (nyse: bbi) yesterday in a 20-year exclusive deal that aims to sell movie-on-demand services, including 500 titles, on its broadband network by year's end."

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @07:10PM (#23030802) Homepage Journal
    What dooms all of these slightly different boxes, whether cablebox, cablemodem, TiVo, or even gaming machines, is that people don't want a pile of different boxes, each one trapping them in a different "mode" in which they use their TV. Where each content mode has a different GUI, and lots of redundant overlap with the others. They certainly don't want to get locked into different boxes with different viewing modes for different sets of the same kind of content, like movies. Who wants to care whether they're watching a "cable movie" or a "TiVo movie" or a "disc movie" or a "Blockbuster movie"?

    What will replace all these boxes and modes is an open standard box that does it all with a unified GUI. It might even take "expansion boxes", to handle retrieving and decoding different data types, especially if they're as different as, say, a videogame and a newshour.

    That's why I say "game consoles" will replace all these different "media terminals". The Sony Playstation3 is probably the winner waiting for the world to catch up with it. With the imminent introduction of PlayTV [], a TV decoder, the PS3's single GUI will play regular cable (or broadcast) TV and enable tivo DVR, and of course games and DVD/Blu-Ray, as well as on-demand and multicast Internet video (and music, and telephony...). Since the FCC has mandated that cablecos stop bundling set-top boxes with their networks and data (including TV data) service, the PlayTV cable decoder will fill that gap. If PlayTV had a DOCSIS modem built in, it would do it all - until then, the DOCSIS modem gets its cable from a splitter off the incoming cableco coax, just like now with the regular cablemodem, but the DOCSIS modem can plug right into the PS3 gigabit ethernet port (or one of its USB ports).

    The important difference is the integration. The PS3 has a single GUI for all that. It's also got multiple parallel DSPs ("SPUs") onchip, for fast processing all of that different media, all in parallel, all flippable around "picture in picture" (or whatever paradigm Sony brings to true multimedia). The PS3 runs Linux already on its PPC, with drivers arriving for video and other media processing on those SPUs. So even the "PC" might get sucked into this single platform.

    There will be a few years while the PS3 is still ahead of its time. In that time, Blockbuster and the others might have some markets they can reach with their dumbed-down, simple "single media" players. But they'll have to invest quite a lot into new kinds of tech they're not familiar with. All the while showing Sony what works and what doesn't, for Sony's paid-off manufacturing plants to adopt as software on the PS3s increasingly filling people's homes. Eventually the shakeout will come (not too far off), and Sony's position and diversity will win. The dominance of Sony in that landscape will also intimidate smart investors from backing competitors, further delivering the market to Sony instead.

    This analysis could also apply to other game consoles, like the X-Box. But the X-Box took a serious setback by betting on HD-DVD instead of Blu-Ray, and against Sony which controls what has now won the HD format wars for physical distribution (which beats Internet speeds in the USA for the next couple years for most people). X-Box is also not able to compete with the PS3 parallelism, either in the multiple streams or in the ultimate rendering chip to the TV. And so even the leader right now, the Wii, will be underpowered for the multimedia challenge the PS3 will win.

    It's a win for us, too. Because it will work only if these different media work on open standards, which is the only way to integrate them on a single box, rather than proprietary formats on proprietary, redundant, compartmentalized boxes. Which means the overall economics and tech directions favor openness. A non-PS3 PC with the same horsepower, and 3rd party integrated GUIs could come in and compete, too. Which means you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      This makes more sense from a "nerd" point of view, but I don't feel it will pan out like that.

      The PS3 is not the answer, nor is any other game system. Why? Simply because they are considered "game systems" by the mainstream world, and I don't feel that will change no matter how hard Sony pushes the media center aspect of the PS3. It will fail or succeed on its merits as a game system.

      So where will the answer come from? Who knows, but I think perhaps Netflix is a good contender for creating something

      • The PS3 is the bestselling Blu-ray player in the world. With the death of HD-DVD, it's the bestselling HD videodisc player in the world. It was the first BD player on the market, and has always had more movie than game titles. I don't think it's locked in a definition as "videogame" by a longshot.

        The PlayTV unit isn't quite released yet, but it will be the gateway to selling lots more PS3s. And that's before Sony really launches a campaign to show the PS3 as the "media hub" for all its products, including n
      • I'm buying a PS3 mostly just for the Blu-ray player. I'll probably play ONE game on it (GTA IV) and maybe a few more if my kids decide to stop liking their Wii and start buying games for the PS3.

        Given my local Blockbuster has the largest selection of Blu-ray titles for rent (outside of mail order stuff like Netflix), I'm not only going with a PS3, but I'm also going with Blockbuster.

        P.S. I'm not a "nerd".

    • What will replace all these boxes and modes is an open standard box that does it all with a unified GUI. It might even take "expansion boxes", to handle retrieving and decoding different data types, especially if they're as different as, say, a videogame and a newshour.

      My cable company is so close...they have the model in place to do this, but the execution is crap. The Scientific Atlanta DVR box theoretically could do everything you mention, if it weren't a big steamy pile of dung on the User Interface side.

      I think your scenario is basically a pipe-dream in the States. Most municipalities still don't have a REAL choice in service, so we are limited to crappy Scientific Atlanta boxes, going with satellite (and acquiring a few more remote controls and boxes) or getti

      • Openness is the key to the way out. The FCC surprisingly mandated last year that no cableco can any longer bundle their locked-in set-top box with their network and data (video). I think it was a political move to force cablecos to pioneer that service model, years before the telcos which are opening their platform at their own rate, but also inevitably.

        As usual, the cablecos aren't meeting the mandate on schedule, but they are all able, or nearly all, to use 3rd party settop boxes. I believe they're all su
        • Excellent post, thanks!
          • Thanks for the chance to think it through. Following up on some of what I said that was kinda old news, I also learned that the cable industry is moving away from even CableCARD HW/smartcard, towards some kind of totally SW "downloadable authentication" instead. Which means it should be compatible with all HW, and be even more open, cheaper, and likely to run on something like a PC - or a PS3.
  • And how does this compete with the Pirate Bay, exactly?
    • Well, if they get it right, you should be able to start watching your film instantly, instead of having to wait for it to finish downloading. Pirate Bay requires you to predict that there's nothing good on TV and pick something good to watch, anything from 30min to a few days before depending on how popular the film you want to watch is.
      • It's pretty easy to predict that there will be nothing good on TV. Because there is never anything good on TV. The trick, is to always have 2 or 3 movies waiting to be watched. That way, when you're in the mood to watch a movie, it's always sitting there, just waiting for you to watch it.
  • No, the only way this would work is if the customer doesn't have to buy a $200 hardware device, but can rent the box for, say, $15 month or so. Amortize the box costs like cell phone companies do.
  • Blockbuster is proposing to provide a similar service to Netflix, only at two to four times the marginal cost* AND an up-front fee?

    *It's one movie per dollar of your plan, right? or is it unlimited now?

    I mean, I see the advantage of a set-top box, but that marginal cost is going to make a lot of people think twice, non? I guess it worked for Tivo, though...
  • They should just buy SageTV ( and their HD Media Extender (woops, I shouldn't be probably saying it since I do own one and it is the single best piece of electronic equipment I have ever bought).
  • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:09PM (#23031304) Homepage Journal
    the store's existing competence in the industry

    C'mon, am I really going to be the first one to point out the hilarity of that phrase?
  • The device is believed to be a stand-alone product akin to Apple TV as opposed to embedding a Blockbuster-branded service in such existing devices as Microsoft's Xbox 360 or TiVo. Blockbuster eyes streaming to TVs []

    It competes for shelf space, back panel connections and room on the power strip.

    It competes with the services of your cable or internet provider.

    Time-Warner owns Harry Potter. Why should it let Blockbuster in on the action?

    It duplicates the functionality already built into your DVR, video gam

  • This whole thing is rediculous and is exactly why open standards exist. I should be able to buy a settop box on my own and point it at any content providers I want over my neutral pipe (say what you will about the modem age, the telephone company had no control over the bits passing over my line). I want a Warner Bros. movie, I go to the Warner Bros. content point (some web service somewhere) and buy the movie from them. If they want to focus on their core competencies and license out the movies to someo
  • Another remote to lose? Sonnofa squirrell. Make it work with my universal remote and I'll consider it. And get off my lawn!
  • ..For a second, I thought the headline was "Working on Sex-Bot Box"
  • I'm studying Blockbuster in my MBA program. They are really getting their lunch eaten by Netflix. Really and truly. They eventually copied the Netflix model, but they charged too much. Although they had the great idea of letting you drop them off in the store(actually, brilliant) it was too little too late. They are WAY behind on subscribers with little hope of turning the tide. Rentals are dwindling, they can't charge late fees any more. The brick and mortar stores are really dragging down profatability. T
    • I enjoyed, and agreed, with most of what you wrote, but:

      it sucks to use a PC to watch movies
      Why is that? We just use an HDMI cable from our computer to our HDTV set when we want to use the computer for movies (including Netflix online movies). Even non-tech people could do that....(Plus I know a lot of people who love to watch movies on their laptop, though that is not us.)

      At any rate it is good to see Blockbuster finally going down!

      • by drsmithy ( 35869 )

        Why is that? We just use an HDMI cable from our computer to our HDTV set when we want to use the computer for movies (including Netflix online movies). Even non-tech people could do that....(Plus I know a lot of people who love to watch movies on their laptop, though that is not us.)

        Because you (by which I mean the average, tech-ignorant consumer) can't sit back on the couch with a beer and do everything from your remote control.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @10:26PM (#23032134)

    Just like every other set top box on the market.

    With these newfangled flat panel TV sets, none of the boxes stay on top of the set. They all fall on the floor.

  • But with the ISPs looking to go to a "pay per gig" tiered Internet, ideas like this will be dead in the water. Who is going to waste what little bandwidth the ISPs allow you to get something you could just drive to Blockbuster for? And if you think you'll have plenty of bandwidth, two out of the three ISPs in my neighborhood have gone tiered. Here is what you get-

    ISP A-$40 for 20Gb-$1.50 per gig afterwards Or ISP B-$40 for 35Gb-$1.00 per gig afterwards. I personally hope that competition will mean that t

  • If anyone can charge late fees on movie downloads, BallBu$ter can. Well, if they're making vapor press releases like this, it only means they'll be out of business soon enough.

  • I think the guesses on price are totally off. My guess is the price of the box is going to be $299 and that the rentals will be EXACTLY the same price they are in the store.

    #1 - First generation hardware is always expensive. I'm sure if it is successful, they will do a cost reduced version that is a lot more competitive with the low end AppleTV

    #2 - If Blockbuster is involved, there is no way they are undercutting the prices at their stores. No way.
  • but how are they going to deliver the overpriced bottles of Coke and buckets of stale popcorn that they must make most of their profits on?

    Seriously, this can't be efficient for them. They should just jump on AppleTV and give one away/cheap with an all you can eat sub for $300 a year. Otherwise a multiplicity of set top boxes will start competing for floor space with the games machines around people's TVs. Either that or they will have to provide their own bandwidth and then there will be a multiplicity of
  • That is so over priced it's not even humorous.

    I'm ok with the hardware serving one purpose with one provider. I'm not ok with paying for that hardware. Maybe $200 with a $200 credit for downloads. Then the movie "rentals" should be about $2 each, last a week or more, watchable as many times as I'd like, and in high def. The television shows could also be rentals, but only cost like $0.50.

    Also, in certain areas (my home town is a good example) the ISP may be willing to host a "Blockbuster server", and allow
  • If they come up with a Netflix-like business model, where you can get a certain # of hours per month (or better yet, unlimited, one movie at a time though) for a nominal, flat fee, they will get to live up to their name - they will be a real BLOCKBUSTER!

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"