Blames Hewlett-Packard’s discontinuation of the software responsible for running the site.
Wal-Mart, which currently holds some 40% of the physical DVD market, has announced that it’s pulling the plug on its online movie download service for the time being. The reason for the decision is that Hewlett-Packard Co., which provided the software running the site, "made a business decision to discontinue its video download-only merchant store service."
HP spokeswoman Anna Ichel Buxbaum said the company dropped the service because it "has not performed as expected." Buxbaum said HP would refocus its investments into other digital entertainment ventures.
"The broader internet video space continues to remain highly dynamic and uncertain," Buxbaum said in a statement.
Launched less than a year ago, Wal-Mart’s video download service initially included some 3,000 movie titles and TV episodes. However, despite the advertised convenience of the service the movies wouldn’t work on standard DVD players or on Apple iPods, which of course dominate the portable media player market.
Wal-Mart initially offered films from $12.88 to $19.88 and individual TV episodes for $1.96 – 4 cents less than the iTunes store. Wal-Mart’s online store sold older titles starting at $7.50, compared with the $9.99 charged by iTunes.
Wal-Mart’s departure leaves Apple’s iTunes store and Amazon.com Inc.’s Unbox service among the few remaining options for legal movie downloads, which haven’t garnered as much consumer interest as online music sales. Last month, Time Warner Inc.’s AOL also scrapped its pay-for-download movie service.
Wal-Mart hasn’t said whether it would attempt to start the service again using a different company’s software, but with BitTorrent and other P2P services offering content as it’s released or even beforehand, the delayed DVD model will continue to be a tough sell no matter what the price.
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