They're piloting a program that allows customers to -- get this -- bring their portable media players into stores, plug them into a kiosk, and download videos.
What's wrong with this model? First of all, why on earth would anyone bother to drive to a store to buy digital media? One major advantage of using media in digital forms is its portability: you can grab it online without having to go anywhere. Consumers accustomed to the convenience of iTunes are never going to go for this.
Second, the pilot program only works with Archos media players. (Do you know anyone with an Archos player? I don't. I'm not sure I've ever heard of them before this story. When I decided not to go for an iPod this time around, I don't even remember considering them.) Like Netlibrary's audiobooks, any program offering digital media content that doesn't work with the most popular portable player out there is doomed to failure.
The Hollywood Reporter news story refers to the transaction as a "rental," rather than a purchase, which if true suggests that there's some sort of DRM in place too. That's probably the third strike against this idea.
Libraries, pay attention to everything Blockbuster is doing wrong here. It's still far, far easier for users to download bootleg movies in the comfort of their own browser that will work on any device they want. Media providers are still offering alternatives that are more difficult and less useful to the consumer than piracy, and they'll continue to fail.
[Photo credit: RocketRaccoon]