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Blockbuster Trying To Stay Alive

Posted by susabelle at 10:03 AM on October 22, 2010

I have not heard of this anywhere, which is odd.  But yesterday when I stopped at my favorite gas station (Quick Trip, for anyone that cares) to get my morning Diet Coke (coffee is for amateurs, you know), there were these little stickers on the floor leading back to the hallway by the bathrooms.  I had noticed a few weeks ago that they had removed the map counter/lottery ticket scratch off station, and installed electric and network lines.  In its place yesterday was a huge blue kiosk, ala RedBox.  Only this one is called Blockbuster Express.  You swipe your credit card, choose your movie, and you have it until the next day at 9 p.m.

When I went looking for information on the “about” page at Blockbuster Express I got one little tiny statement: “BLOCKBUSTER Express began in 2008 as part of a strategic alliance between BLOCKBUSTER Inc., a leading provider of in-home movies and entertainment, and NCR Corporation, the global leader in self-service devices.”

2008?  And then it took 2 years to get this on the market?  By 2008 RedBox had saturated the market.  Once again, Blockbuster comes in late to the game.  In addition, why has there been no press about this, no push for discovery, no marketing whatsoever?  I’m pretty connected, and have heard nothing about this.

What surprises me even more is how quickly the kiosks are starting to appear.  I did a cursory search for Blockbuster Express kiosks with 15 miles of my zip code, and got 24 responses.  When I did the same search on RedBox for kiosks within 15 miles of my zip code, and got 50 responses.  But considering I had not seen or heard about Blockbuster’s kiosks until a couple of days ago, I’m somewhat surprised at the proliferation of them in my area. Right now RedBox is at every McDonald’s, every Walgreen’s, and every one of my major local grocery stores (who have shut down their own video rental services and replaced them with RedBox).  Blockbuster Express is showing up at Mobil gas stations, 7-11′s, and other such establishments.

Will this save Blockbuster?  I don’t think it will.  Too late to the game, it only dilutes the market share, and most people who have been using RedBox all along will likely continue to do so.  But it could become quite the turf war.  I wonder, now, what’s in it for the retailers, and what incentives are being offered to place a box in a certain location.  Is the market ready for two different DVD rental kiosk systems?