Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wal-Mart Trying Hard To Compete With Netflix, Apple And Others

Big box stores like Wal-Mart are recognizing that they need to have a strong digital business to survive and compete. And a dot com strategy must be more thaan simply selling its in-store merchandise online. It is why Wal-Mart continues to push a streaming media video play. "A cloud-based video movie service, Vudu lets customers rent or buy movies over the Internet and stream them to their TVs, Blu-ray players and a variety of Vudu-enabled devices such as Sony's (SNE) PlayStation 3 and HDTVs from LG Electronics, Sharp and Panasonic (PC)." Vudu was bought by Wal-Mart last year and is being rolled out next week.

Wal-Mart hopes that it is not too late to the game, with Apple, Netflix, Amazon, and others also in this space. "Unlike competing services such as Netflix, the Vudu platform on does not offer any subscription service, and the retailer said it does not currently plan to offer such a service." A one off strategy may not be enough to work as companies are looking hard at subscription strategies as a means to better forecast and achieve higher revenues. And Wal-Mart may need to add music and other digital deliverables to its mix as demand for these other downloads grow as well.

Like the early days of cable, when there were many operators, the streaming media business will quick enough find that it needs to consolidate with others to control and own the platform. Perhaps Wal-Mart needs a partner like Barnes and Noble to add a digital book component to its mix. Or perhaps it could align with Apple to mutually support their new cloud approach. At the end of the day, many platforms for distribution streaming will merge into few and the leaders will be the ones to pursue consolidation and growth strategies.