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MovieLink: How Stupid Can You Get?

Published April 3rd, 2006

MovieLink excludes Mac and Linux usersGood grief. Who the heck is in charge of strategic thinking at those movie studios? Movielink, a consortium of 5 Hollywood studios, launched a new movie-download service today that is only available for users of Windows XP or Windows 2000. They will for the first time allow full-length feature films to be downloaded to consumers. From the AP press release on the new service:

Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and MGM will offer some first-run and older titles on Movielink. New films will be priced similar to DVDs — between US$20 and $30 — while older titles will sell for $10 to $20.

What the news release doesn’t mention is that the service is not available for non-Windows customers. It’s amazing that the writer wouldn’t think this was worth mentioning.

Talk about repeating history! Isn’t this precisely what the music companies did for a couple of years before Apple launched the iTunes music store? Of course it is… And like then, they had that big Gorilla, Microsoft, tagging along to make sure no one messed with them. But did that make them successful? Of course not!

Exclusionary tactics are not American, for heaven’s sake! Why would you deliberately exclude potential customers, even if you could? Isn’t this what we used to call “prejudice”? Anyone who put a sign on their shop window today saying, “We do not serve Blacks, Gays, or Jews,” would never last a day. But somehow this is OK.

Aside from the moral issue are the technical and business issues… Technically, QuickTime’s .H264 codec is so far superior to any other video delivery system it’s pathetic to even think of anything else. The only reason you would is if you allowed yourself to be led by an advisor who was in Microsoft’s pocket. That adviser would make sure you never saw what .H264 is capable of. And never knowing about .H264 would allow you to pick Windows Media. I guess they hadn’t heard that Accuweather had just gone the other way–embracing .H264 for its newscasts. Anyone who actually pays a visit to Accuweather today couldn’t possibly miss the vast superiority in their new videos over the old ones based on Windows and Real media.

From a business perspective, are these guys blind? Apple has the market for downloadable video already sewn up! Even before introducing a true video download service for iPod users, Apple has established the iPod “with video” as a shoe-in to be the replacement for DVD’s that it has already become for CD’s. And by going with QuickTime, you make your service available to a much broader spectrum of computer users. It’s also painfully obvious that the Windows Media Center PC is a failure, and Apple’s new entry in that space, Front Row running on a Mac mini or iMac, has the potential to draw iPod users in droves. Geez, I’m wasn’t a business major, but this is just common sense, unless you live totally in the goofy Windows world where so little is expected of a computer and anything associated with it.

This is the kind of prejudiced action that should be outlawed. Microsoft should not be allowed to dictate what operating system you must have in order to use a new Internet service. When will people realize that Microsoft’s system is the closed one? Apple keeps its technologies in synch in order to provide the best computing experience. Microsoft restricts access to services in order to tie users to Windows.

Anyway, here’s the note I sent to the idiots running MovieLink:

It’s outrageous that you are deliberately excluding millions of potential customers by restricting customers to buggy, virus-infested Windows systems. Only really stupid people use Windows these days, so good luck attracting any business. Stupid people are not early adopters… Mac and Linux users are. Stupid people do not know how to download movies. Mac and Linux users do.

Unless you change this right away (don’t you realize how far superior QuickTime .h264 is over Windows media??) you will go down to a well deserved failure.

Leland Scott

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