What’s Wal-Mart’s next move in its quest to take over the world? Streaming video.

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

Envelopes. Soap. Potato chips. Tables. Traffic lights. Sheep. Roasted chicken. Motor oil. Blimps. Apples. Socks. Candy. Lettuce. Bikes. Penguins. Toys. Pillows. Butter. These are just a few of the things any of us could find at a WalMart store. And as of Tuesday, all of us will now have the ability to add one more thing to that always-growing list: Movies.

Oh, but wait, Colin. We could already find movies there, silly goose. In fact, that $5 bin is essential to the breadth of my DVD collection. Buying movies is nothing new to us people who rely on WalMart for everything from toiletries to our home entertainment systems, duh. Stop acting silly, Colin.

Well, disembodied voice filled with italics, you are indeed correct. I am well aware of the vast range of DVDs the super store offers. Actually, without it, my movie collection would easily be cut in half.

But alas, that entire product changed Tuesday when the powers-that-be announced plans to … you guessed it … begin streaming those movies online for a small price. Move over, lime green Hulu. Take a hike, blood red Netflix. Don’t even think about it, brownish-yellow Amazon. And come again, light blue iTunes. Walmart.com is here to take over the wide world of streaming moving pictures.

From — who else — the kind people at Wal-Mart themselves and the PR people they so happily employ (viaengadget.com) …

“As customers shop for movies at Walmart.com, they now have the option to select the digital VUDU title and/or the physical title (DVD or Blu-ray Disc),” the company’s news release says. “Those who select the digital title complete their transaction through Walmart.com’s checkout, and then can easily stream the movie directly from Walmart.com, VUDU.com, or from one of the VUDU-enabled devices, including select HDTVs, Blu-ray Disc players and the Playstation3.”

So, what’s VUDU again? Ahhh, disembodied voice. Good question.

In February 2010, the ga-trillion-aires at Wal-Mart decided to invest $100 million in the technology. The move went largely unnoticed if only because February of last year now seems like eons ago in the always-changing world of technology. Plus, no one was really taking the world of streaming movies or television seriously at the time, so to the naked eye, it was just another way to blow $100 million. As it turns out, VUDU was/is a type of technology that was/is beginning to be installed in all entertainment devices (note that Playstation3 comment from the news release). In fact, since Wal-Mart purchased VUDU, the company has been able to work its way into more than 300 consumer electronic products, including … you guessed it again … Internet-connected television sets.

To add the perennial cherry on top, the boys in dark blue announced intentions to begin what they are calling a 99-cent Move of the Day feature. Again, we scrunch our eyes and turn our bodies toward the news release …

“To celebrate this launch on Walmart.com, VUDU is inviting fans on Walmart’s Facebook page to vote for a new release title that will be available to rent for only 99 cents,” the release said. “The titles to choose from include: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules”, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” and “Gnomeo and Juliet”. Customers can vote by ‘liking’ their pick at www.facebook.com/walmart. The new release title with the most by 5 p.m. tomorrow (which was Wednesday, mind you) will be available to rent for just 99 cents on Friday, July 29.”

Really? You couldn’t get three better titles than those, Wal-Mart people? What? Did you expect only five- to 13-year-olds to utilize this new product? Come on, now.

Anyways, now to the real news here (apologies for burrying the lead): This move allows Wal-Mart to begin selling the movies online the same days the DVDs are released in store. Take that, Redbox, Netflix and, well, pretty much everyone who cares about this kind of stuff. No more waiting periods. If you really couldn’t wait another day to see Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz pretend to be relevant in “Knight And Day” once the movie hit the shelves, you would have been in luck had Wal-Mart offered such a service back when that movie polluted our world.

So, this is interesting, right? Wal-Mart has done a pretty good job at taking over the world over the past decade. The company has oodles upon oodles of more money than, say, Hulu, or Netflix (a company whose stocks are currently getting murdered since that price increase announcement, mind you) to blow on stuff like this. Yes, friends. Though it may take a while to truly see what comes of such a move, this is indeed a game-changer.

For the record, the movies range from 99 cents to $5.99 for rentals, and between $4.99 and $24.99 for actual purchases. As for now, a subscription service is not in the works. The company claims it currently has about 20,000 movie titles to choose from and yes, just in case you were worried, you can still buy everything from envelopes to butter whenever you find yourself within the confines of those walls, virtually or physically.


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