Wal-Mart Gives Up–But the Writing is On the Screen

Americans love when a giant goes down. Wal-Mart recently admitted defeat, and has thrown in the towel in its nascent DVD rental by mail business. The behemoth company is now directing its customers to use Net Flix, the pioneering original that developed the concept and tried to get a patent for the idea.

As a Blockbuster by mail subscriber, I can attest to the brilliance and convenience of this idea…one thing I have grown to hate are video store late charges, and forgetting to bring the damn video back. Voila, no problem with the mailbox providing the place to drop off and pick up new releases. But Wal-Mart’s decision might be prescient–because sooner or later there will come a mainstream version of BitTorrent, so that downloading movies legally will replace the quaint notion of renting the physical DVD.

“The big retailer’s decision to abandon the field to NetFlix says something about many other businesses that depend on the delivery of information in some physical format…newspapers, books and magazines, but eventually many publishers are likely to dispense with paper and ink….in the long run the trend is clear,” writes the New York Times.