Blockbuster is Taking on Redbox

Redbox vs BlockbusterIf you have not yet noticed we are in a recession. The White House claims that we are no longer officially in this said recession but with an unemployment rate of over 10% our immediate futures look quite bleak. (The number of unemployed has steadily been rising since this recession began yet Obama thinks throwing money at the problem will fix the issue.) So, when thinking of what’s for dinner or how to spend your Friday night people have been cutting back and counting every dollar that is spent. Who can blame them when one of every ten persons in the United States does not have a job?

So, when thinking of how to spend my Friday night, going to the theater usually becomes the go to answer. (The movie theater that is.) Should we go to the movie theater and see a new release or simply stay at home and rent a movie from Blockbuster? Well, based on the rising prices due to inflation and the demand for consumers to be constantly entertained, the price to go to a new movie in the theater will end up costing you and a guest just under $20 for two tickets. If you decide to stay at home you will spend just less than $10 on a single DVD rental. Sure, you can keep this movie for as long as you like seeing as how Blockbuster has no late fees but how many times can you really watch a movie to get full enjoyment out of it? It is not like you are going to sit there all night and hit replay when the disc is over.

Enter the wonderful concept of Redbox. Redbox was designed to give you a cheaper solution to your DVD rental needs. With Redbox you can rent any number of new releases, television shows, or even old school films that will do nothing more than bring back old memories.  These movies are only $1 a night and are not due back until the following evening by 9:00 PM. So, if you rent a DVD after work and watch it that evening, you do not have to rush back to the Redbox you rented it from in fear of being hit with late fees.

Let’s make this one step easier, shall we? If you rent a DVD on your way home from work, and there is actually a Redbox closer to your house than the one you rented it from, no problem. You can return the DVD to any Redbox location. On top of that, if you are an iPhone user, you can rent movies from your phone and tell it which Redbox you want to pick it up from. So if you are too lazy to even swipe a credit card at the machine and go through the check out process you can do this from the luxury of your own home. And at $1 a night you simply can’t compete with those prices.

(There is a company that is starting to produce machines exactly like the Redbox but charge you based on the hours you have the DVD. From the reports that I have read if you rent the film, take a few hours to watch it, and return it you can rent a DVD for less than a quarter overall. That is even something that could potentially put Redbox in the middle of this battle.)

Well, what if you have a Blu-ray player or you want to play video games rather than watch a movie? Good thing that most of the Redbox machines out there are starting to carry not only Blu-ray DVDs but also Xbox 360 games, as well as games from Play Station 3 and the Nintendo Wii. By the end of the year 2010 Redbox claims they will have all three fully stocked in all of their locations.

So, back to the mega rental giant that is Blockbuster. You would think after seeing the immediate success, and now lingering effects of this concept, that they would introduce something similar. Well, guess what? Blockbuster recently announced that they will be renting DVDs at select locations from a similar sized and shaped machine for, you got it, $1 a night. But this is not a perfect solution to compete with Redbox. Here’s why.

The Blockbuster kiosks will actually contain a much smaller selection that what the Redbox option does. That might be hard to believe as the Redbox selection is not all that extensive, but Blockbuster said it was only going to release the latest and greatest from the hills of Hollywood. So, if you are looking to watch something new, something to challenge your mind and push the limits of your movie viewing, then this might not be the solution for you.

Redbox is relatively a quick process. You use a touch screen to select your film, swipe your credit card, and the machine dispenses exactly what you selected. (I have only had it happen once that it provided a DVD that was not the one I had selected. In my instance they not only refunded me my dollar but also gave me the rental that I wanted in the first place. Their customer service is quite impressive.) However, the Blockbuster machine is reported to be extremely slow compared to Redbox. From reports that I have read it can take upwards of five minutes to complete the entire process from DVD selection to purchase. This actually reminds me of a machine that was released by Kroger not too long ago in an effort to compete. It was much larger than a Redbox, had ads plastered all over the side, and was extremely slow. Kroger now is using Redbox.

Let’s say that you have a Redbox DVD that you are planning on returning on your way to work. You are running late and in a hurry and when you turn the corner there are three people in line waiting to use this new Blockbuster kiosk. Well, a perfect solution would be able to return the DVD without waiting in line. The Redbox forces you to go through a process to return the DVD, so they are no better than the Blockbuster kiosk in this regard, but you would think Blockbuster would have learned from that mistake. Based on the overall experience from this new concept from Blockbuster they put practically no research and development into this.

At the end of the day all Blockbuster was trying to do was compete with a close competitor. But, they ended up producing a product that not only meets the exact same criteria but also will drive users away due to the slow speed, the lack of titles, and the mirror image of what he or she can get in Redbox. I have yet to see one of these machines but I can imagine they will have a very short run as Redbox continues to over take the market. Redbox is getting better and better each week while Blockbuster falls further and further into the red. Either way, it will take something out of this world to get be back into the aisles of Blockbuster.