What's remarkable about Wal-Mart's just-unveiled Video Downloads is not that America's number one retailer is venturing into online distribution of
movies and teevee. The real story is that Wal-Mart has convinced all six major motion picture studios and at least some of the networks to pour a
total of 3000 titles into the fledgling service. Wal-Mart tells
how to enjoy its downloads on TV, PC, or portable player. Pricing ranges from $1.96 for a TV episode to $19.88 for a fresh movie title.
Shop around and you'll find movie titles well under the maximum. For example, Rugrats Go Wild
for a mere $7.50. Still, even that's
not much of a bargain compared to your basic Blockbuster movie rental fee of less than $5--so much for the "always low prices" slogan. Moreover, there's no mention of HD, compatible portables do not
include iPods, and Wal-Mart's web developer is guilty, guilty, guilty of a major gaffe: The service seems to have been optimized for Internet
Explorer (I used version 7). In Firefox 1.5, it's an unusable mess. Any Safari or Opera users having trouble with this page
? Let me know. In fairness, the service is in beta, and improvements may follow.