Peer Review: Blockbuster hints at set-top box, critics less than enthusiastic

This week the Hollywood Reporter reported that movie-rental chain Blockbuster is going to announce a set-top box for streaming movies sometime later this month. Its sourcing was anonymous, but PR for the company issued a coy non-denial, making it seem likely that Blockbuster will indeed announce a Vudu-style set-top box, even if it doesn't happen immediately.

The article provoked a torrent of criticism about Blockbuster's alleged next step. If the rumors were true, the company would be entering a crowded marketplace with an unproven audience. Many writers argued that the world doesn't need another Apple TV, but a service that will work on multiple platforms. Others wrote that the box is a terrible idea that will never catch on. More than one critic noted that the best way for Blockbuster to be competitive would be for it to give the boxes away for free (or sell the boxes and give the movies away). Now that's something we'd like to see. Click Continue to read more thoughtful opinions from around the web.

Make the boxes free
"Frankly, I’m amazed that Blockbuster (and Netflix, for that matter) is taking so long to come out with a set-top box…Now here’s a crazy idea for Blockbuster: Once your set-top boxes are ready, hand ‘em out for free (either that, or charge a couple hundred for the box, but allow unlimited free movie streaming)." , Yahoo Tech

Blockbuster is misjudging its customers
"This is just a stinker of a move, all the way around. Keep in mind that the typical Blockbuster customer isn't a serial celluloid buff. It's a college kid trying to score a copy of I Am Legend… Call me nuts, but I don't think "early adopter" is the first term you'd use to describe the folks filing into a Blockbuster on a weekend afternoon… Blockbuster needs to emphasize its physical store footprint, rather than try to squeeze itself into customers' living rooms." , The Motley Fool

It won't help
"I still think they're kinda doomed." , Slashdot

It's the company's only option
"While delivering movies into the home electronically certainly challenges Blockbuster's brick and mortar business, really, what choice do they have in the relentless face of progress?" , Engadget

Nobody cares what the customer wants
"The trouble is, whereas signing up for a bunch of neighborhood video stores meant nothing more than a few extra cards in your wallet, signing up with different streaming services means more boxes crowding the living room. What's needed is some kind of neutral device, or even just an IP enabled television set. That way the services can compete on service, price and catalog. That would be great for the consumer, which is why it will probably never happen." , Wired

It's for old people
"Blockbuster’s going to have to sell people like my parents on this device because there’s not much chance that it’s going to be different enough from other current options to convince younger generations." , Crunchgear

Blockbuster: Not a hardware company
"Streaming digital media straight to the TV is the ultimate goal of the rental outlets, but figuring out that last mile has been tough. Apple built a set top box (the Apple TV), but Apple was already in the hardware business and so it wasn't as big a risk for them. Netflix and Blockbuster have no experience designing, building, or selling hardware or software." , Switched

At least the service would have excellent selection
"The big advantage Blockbuster would enjoy over Apple TV, Vudu, and TiVo, it seems, would be selection. Considering its longstanding relationships with the studios, it would likely have the largest library of films and TV shows to choose from." , CNet

Open standards, people. It's the future.
"Make it easy for consumers to reach your service from any platform or gadget they happen to use, rather than trying so hard to protect your precious data streams from piracy that you make them useless or inconvenient to your own customers. If Blockbuster truly is releasing a single proprietary device, I think it will fail miserably." , ArsTechnica

Last Week: Critics have a good feeling about Samsung's Instinct