Demand and supply

Business Week reports WalMart is unhappy with the suggestion that the movie studios may be considering distributing movies through Apple's iTunes Music store.

The problem for WalMart is they are living in an ongoing brick and mortar dream world. iTunes certainly has it's detractor and some are worried about the restrictions of DRM. For many of us, though, we're perfectly willing to deal with the limits in exchange for the extreme convenience. We don't shop at WalMart but do frequent both Target and various bookstores that have music sections. Every once in a while I will even browse through the music collection (usually at the bookstore). If I find something interesting I'll make a note, or take a picture with the camera in my cell phone, and go home to purchase it from iTunes.

Back in the Compact Disc era I had several albums of The Beatles. I like listening to The Beatles. I ripped the albums into my iTunes library and still listen to them from time to time. However, since I cannot easily get their music from iTunes Music Store, The Beatles now make up an ever smaller portion of my music library and listening time. I could relatively easily buy a CD or two but the fact that I can readily find new and interesting music without the hassle and with no need to find a place to store the plastic artifacts of the data I want.

WalMart is ready to play the heavy in the way they always have. What they are missing, however, is that the brick and mortar rules have changed. Don't believe me? Just ask the folks at Tower Records how the brick and mortar business does when there is a viable online alternative. The real question is not whether the other studios will join Disney in online distribution, but how long they will take to catch up.