What does Wal-Mart (WMT) have against Firefox? I showed earlier their new movie download service on the open-source browser looks like something produced by an IBM Selectric on LSD. It looks just as bad on Firefox on the Mac. (The comparison is better understood if you are on LSD as well or weed.) At first look I figured it was just a glich–a HUGE glich–with the Wal-Mart beta. But the retailer has had all day to fix it. Nothing’s happened. Michael Arrington quotes a web designer, “I could fix this in 30 seconds. Did they even test this in Firefox before launching?”
To appreciate Wal-Mart’s efforts you need to fire up Microsoft Internet Explorer. With it the movie download sight looks like, well, the Wal-Mart website.
One of TechCrunch’s commenter told Firefox users to do a hard refresh of the web page (shift-control-R). That does the trick, but Wal-Mart’s had all day to fix this. At the least they could put up a redirect to a page saying the beta site works only with Internet Explorer. A Google beta this is not.
Gizmodo questioned Wal-Mart about the service. The company emphasised the service is a beta and it’s a chance for them to feel things out at the beginning of a downloadable media world.
So what does Wal-Mart have against Firefox? Nothing. Things are just a work in progress.
Wal-Mart’s new endeavor gets an Om Malik beating calling it another in a long line of “too many me-too download services out there, muddying the waters and confusing the consumers about which movie or television they can download from where, and why.” Om thinks the winner won’t be Wal-Mart shareholders by Steve Jobs.
IDG News gives us the techy scoop on how and who brought the movie download site to life:
The offering is built on HP Video Merchant Services, a Web-shopping technology also launched Tuesday that allows businesses to set up an online video store. HP holds hundreds of petabytes of digital films and TV shows in its data centers, and provides back-office sales and search applications, said Willem de Zoete, vice president and general manager of Digital Entertainment Services at HP.
Customers like Wal-Mart use the service as part of their online retail offerings, allowing cinema fans to browse movies based on genre, or search by entering the name of an actor, director or film. Customers can then download the movies to play on their PCs or portable video players, or order a packaged disc to arrive in the mail, choosing a DVD, HD-DVD or Blu-ray format.
A first-time user must install a program on the PC before starting the 30- to 45-minute process of downloading a 1.5G-byte movie over a typical household broadband connection, although most can start watching within five to 10 minutes, said Kevin Swint, Wal-Mart’s divisional merchandise manager for digital media.
I wonder how much of a turn-key system HP Video Merchant Services is. How easy would it be for this website to set up movie download service? Thousands of movie sites would be great for the movie studios and television networks. It wouldn’t be so good for Wal-Mart to have their competition only a click away.
[Button via James Kolbern.]