A message to Warner Brothers

I just visited guba.com because I heard that Warner Brothers was offering feature films online. What a great idea! Oh, wait…no, it’s not so great after all. Let me see if I understand this properly. I can pay $19.99 to download a video to my computer from GUBA OR I can just buy the DVD itself on sale somewhere for about $17. If I buy the film from GUBA, I get an encrypted file that I can only play on a Windows computer with Internet Explorer or on a Plays for Sure device–but not on a standard DVD player. If I buy the DVD, I can play it on any computer with any DVD player software and on any DVD player. Now…which option do you think I’m going to choose?

I have to ask, “What were you thinking, Warner Brothers?” This is such a poorly conceived idea, it’s incomprehensible that anyone with any intelligence at any company could delude themselves into believing that this would be an attractive alternative for consumers. Why isn’t it, you ask? (1) This distribution model gives consumers fewer viewing location choices, completely eliminating the most popular one: the DVD player attached to the home TV. (2) The selection of Windows’ (and only Windows’) DRM alienates many tech-savy consumers who choose not to use IE, Media Player, and/or Windows itself. (3) The price point is completely out of line. Ultimately, consumers get less in this model, so they should expect to pay less.

Do you want consumers like me to consider buying Warner Brothers content online? Here’s what you need to offer: For 9.99 or less, let me purchase and download a file that I can play on any computer or TV in my home from a central file system. For 4.99, let me download either Plays for Sure (Windows) or FairPlay-protected (Apple) versions of the content, targetted for smaller, portable devices at 320 x 240. Then, and only then, will I consider buying Warner Brother content online. Until that time, I’ll be sticking with DVD media.

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