When industries collide, it's like a supernova sometimes. We may all be seeing the first pulls at old media versus digital media with the insane popularity of Apple's iPod music/video player and companies that love to sell loss-leaders like DVDs just to get shoppers in the stores where they will most likely buy more than just a DVD or two.
One such battle is happening between two unlikely adversaries, Apple and Wal-Mart. The world's largest retailer is upset that Apple plans on making full-length movies available for download via its online iTunes service. With Wal-Mart being accountable for 40% of the $17 billion-a-year DVD industry, it is understandable that the retailer is a little miffed at Steve Jobs and Co.
This is a classic example of one industry that won't quickly adapt to customer requests, although I'm not sure Apple is bowing to customer requests for downloadable full-length movies more than trying to get customers to its iTunes store with its intelligent marketing -- and it's a brand master extraordinaire. Regardless, if Apple does its usual bang-up job of creating cool and inspiring products, the customers will come, much to the dismay of the physical DVD hawkers, of which Wal-Mart is the biggest.
Instead of griping and trying to be protective of an industry that becomes less relevant as more media is consumed in an all-digital format, should Wal-Mart take a stab at actually competing with Apple and offer movie downloads (and heck, an entire media ecosystem if it really wants to compete)? If so, this would be an interesting move for a retailer -- not a hardware or software manufacturer.
Steve Jobs still has a ways to go to sign up studios to agree to have movies downloadable over iTunes. But the sheer numbers of iPod and iTunes users worldwide must be a big part of the decision-making process. Apple in this corner, Wal-Mart in that corner -- let's get ready to rumble!