David Pogue on digital film rentals

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Technology
May 16th, 2003 • 9:55 pm

David Pogue has a pretty funny column on the extremely poor current offerings in terms of film rentals (downloads/streams) on the net:

Film Rentals, Downloaded to Your PC” by David Pogue, The New York Times [free registration required]

It boggles the mind that these services don’t exploit the potential of the Internet. Any number of improvements could make them more attractive than other video outlets. Online movie stores could offer tens of thousands of movies, dwarfing the selection of video stores. Digital rentals could last two weeks, not 24 hours, without costing the companies a penny more. And there should be a choice of download speeds; people willing to wait longer for superior quality should be allowed to. It is executives, not technology, who keep these services from greater success.

Given that high-speed internet services are increasingly switching to multi-tiered subscription fees depending on the amount of bandwidth that you consume, David should have added that drawback to the mix: high-quality video files, whether streamed or downloaded, are huge — and are likely to eat up a good portion of your daily, weekly, or monthly bandwidth allowance.

We are still a long way from a mainstream, ubiquitous movie rental system over the Internet. Besides, when it finally happens, I am not sure it will be called a “rental” system anymore. The whole concept of renting might be rendered obsolete by a new approach.

I think David is still being optimistic, even in his very negative assessment of these services. It’ll take many more years before movie viewing and the Internet experience become fully integrated, and by then the art of making movies itself might have evolved INTO something else. Who knows?

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