Redbox delivers a social experience

If you haven’t heard of Redbox, you will soon.

Redbox rents DVDs for $1 a day through more than 15,000 vending machines.  As reported by the Associated Press recently, Redbox is fast emerging as a rival to Netflix.  I’ve rented from Redbox several times and agree with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who said that movie rental kiosks will likely be the Number 1 competitor to Netflix, according to the AP.  And why is that?

  • Redbox is convenient.  The vending machines are often found near the entrances of supermarkets and drug stores.  It’s easy to combine a DVD rental with a quick trip to pick up some soda pop and chips.  But Redbox is also banking on the impulse renter. It’s just too darned easy to pick up a DVD on the way out of the store similar to scooping up a magazine or candy bar at the check-out lane.  The concept is brilliant.
  • Redbox is simple.  The pricing terms are easy: you rent movies for $1 dollar a night.  There are no complicated, multi-tiered pricing systems to understand.  And the movie rental categories are simple. You don’t encounter the dizzying array of specialty categories found at movie rental stores, like Family Favorites, Hollywood Favorites, Movies about Psychotics, Just Fallen off the Top 10, Classics for Kids, Classics for Teens, Romances Pre-1950, and so on.  Redbox has to keep the choices simple.  You don’t have a lot of time to ponder your options on your way out to the car with a gallon of cold milk in your shopping cart.
  • Redbox is social.  I don’t even think Redbox knows this yet.  But renting and returning DVDs is a social experience at Redbox vending machines.   I’m amazed at how many times strangers walk up to each other at a Redbox and seek out each other’s movie opinions or swap informal movie talk. (“You returning Revolutionary Road?  What did you think?”) Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised given that Redboxes are located in places where people congregate.

In the digital world, peer reviews of movies happen all the time.  Capturing that dynamic in the offline world is trickier.  Even still, I  would not be surprised if Redbox figures out how to capitalize on the surprisingly social aspect of renting movies from a vending machine.  It’s not difficult to imagine what would happen if you could find Redboxes near restaurants and bars, for example.

Redbox has its flaws.  The downside of a simple inventory is a limited inventory.  You still have to leave your house to return movies, and it’s possible for the vending machines to malfunction.  But until Netflix can figure out how to deliver movies on demand to your television set, Redbox is a fun, social alternative.

if you’ve tried Redbox, let me know what you think of it.

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6 Responses to Redbox delivers a social experience

  1. Pingback: Superhype » Blog Archive » Redbox delivers a social experience - Find Restaurants

  2. Megan Baker says:

    What is the penalty for not returning the video? Are you required to use a credit card?

  3. David Deal says:

    Hi Megan, Redbox requires a debit or credit card. Failing to return the video within one day incurs another day\’s rental of $1. Even if you blow off the return for a day, you stil pay only $2 for a popular movie. If you don\’t return the movie at all, after a certain point, Redbox just considers it sold to you. (You won\’t accumulate a fine indefinitely.)

  4. Eric says:

    Netflix already has on-demand streaming to your TV.

    You\’ll need one of their approved hardware devices (such as Tivo HD, XBox 360, Samsung or LG Blu Ray players, or the Roku interface for $99).

    You can also watch directly on your computer which requires no additional hardware (just a browser plug in).

    Netflix has 12,000 titles available for streaming, including TV shows, and some are in HD.

    But their list of titles does not include many recent movies. Studios are still touchy about the whole streaming thing. I can\’t imagine why.

  5. I use netfix regularly. I think it will take a long time for redbox to be anyway near netfix. But I like their idea of vending machine.

  6. I have only used this service a couple of times, but it was so close to my house and gave a good movie selection. Blockbuster near my house had closed and I did not want to drive 10 miles to the next closest one. Redbox saved the day/night!

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