November 13, 2010

Netflix vs. Redbox? Or, remember that thing called a VCR?

With Blockbuster on its way out, the DVD market is being savored by the mail-delivery, keep it as long as you want Netflix on the left and the get it and watch it when you want (as long as it’s available) for $1 on the right.  The model is uniquely different – Netflix comes to my door on a rotating basis, for only $4.99 a month and I can take how long I want to watch it.  Once I return it, the turnaround time is give or take 2-3 days for another one.  Redbox is a hop, skip and a jump away, and if I feel like watching a movie tonight, by god, it shall be done for the price of just $1 as long as I return it the next day, but if I don’t, it’s still only a dollar fee – who thought of this stuff.

However, Redbox has a few kinks it needs to fix if it’s going to compete.  For instance, I’m a user of both but newer to Redbox, and out of my handful of experiences, more than half of them, I was met with a box that was out of service--no bueno for this gal and no bueno for Redbox’s quality service ratings.  I’m speculating, but I get a sense that what Redbox thought worked for its parent company CoinStar (the change exchanging kiosk) is actually becoming to look like a model built off of the vending machine business . . .  I don’t know about you, but a poorly stocked, poorly functioning vending machine doesn't make me happy.  Hmm.  My guess is Redbox thought they could build the perfect operation, one that practically ran itself through strategic locations, reduce overhead costs to practically nothing, and provide just enough DVD variety to satisfy the consumer substitution sweet tooth  . .customer service, that’s so 2000?  I’m also guessing that CoinStar now can transfer your change into not only a Starbuck’s card, but, you guessed it a Redbox card (and if they’re not doing this, marketing’s not doing their job – P.S.  I can help with that).  Believe me, I’m all about the idea, however, as with technology, when it’s works, it’s great – when it doesn’t, we sulk and when we sulk as consumer, especially when it comes to our entertainment, we seek the alternative.  Judging by the mph the video business is moving, streaming, not quality and customer service, might be redbox’s biggest thorn.  Check out an interesting article from Fast Company that's begging for a merger between Netflix and that other guy, Hulu. 

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