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IBM's plans make some fans of rental movies queasy

You microwave your popcorn, you curl up on your couch and you fire up the latest DVD release, hot out of your local movie rental joint.  As the story begins to take off, all of a sudden the movie freezes.  There is no more movie, just a blaring commercial filling your screen.  You blink in confusion, wondering what just happened.  You reach for the remote, but you cannot fast forward through this commercial.  Only after a few long moments does your movie resume.  Over the course of the movie, you are forced to endure this process multiple times.

This is the concept behind a new patent application from IBM, which is either a genius business ploy or maniacally evil abuse of the consumer, depending on how you choose to look at it.

The patent details a scheme where the user could rent and purchase movies at either a standard rate, with commercial interruption, or pay a few extra dollars to avoid the annoyances.  When a DVD is inserted into a player, the player will automatically check if it is commercial-loaded or commercial-free.  If it is the commercial-loaded version it will either play embedded ads on the disc over the course of the movie, or connect to the internet to download new ads to embed in real-time into the film.

Though not exactly trumpeted by IBM, the patent, if granted could seriously shake up the movie industry.

Could the result be a miracle or would it be a disaster for all parties involved?  The possible results from such a technology could be a very intriguing observation on human behavior, and the mindset of the average modern consumer. 

On the one hand it could be a win-win situation for consumers and the film business.  Movie studios could make a bit of much needed extra cash from advertisers or customers willing to pony up the extra fee for the ad-free content.  Consumers might like it as they might be able to save a couple of dollars on the versions with ads, and it might not be worse than watching a tv show, if properly timed.  Imagine renting new movies for $2.99 instead of $3.99 -- it is attractive proposition, despite the downsides.  And movie studios could elect to front-load the advertisements, as is done in the theater to make sure the consumer sees them, but to provide less interruption.

On the other hand it could be seen as intrusive, and greedy in the consumer eyes and cut into sales and rentals, erasing any potential profit gains.  Movie studios could implement the feature sloppily and ruin the watcher's experience and turn them off.  They could also elect to ad commercials to releases of the current price and only have a higher priced version without them.  And advertising companies might get poor reception from consumers who go to their fridge to get a soda or beer whenever the commercial comes on.

This technology poses a question similar to Fox and NBC's buzz-generating free TV episode online service, detailed at DailyTech, which includes embedded ads, similar to a traditional TV broadcast.  However this technology goes one step further, by seeking to introduce ads into a niche they did not typically occupy. How these technologies, and others, such as Walgreen's new DVD burning kiosks, will effect the lives of movie lovers is yet to be seen, but it almost certain that they will bear an effect.


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Patentable?
By Oregonian2 on 11/27/2007 7:46:34 PM , Rating: 2
Still seems odd that they can "invent" broadcast TV. Sounds pretty much the same as using a DVR and recording a TV show -- with the only change being that the ads aren't fast-forwardable. But that non-skippable'ness is an existing technology used on the FBI warning and sometimes the studio logo unwinding thingie (I assume there's probably a technical name for those). So at best it's a composite patient, which is something that I thought wasn't supposedly patentable. And for that matter, broadcast TV (watched real-time) already has non-skipable ads. :-)




RE: Patentable?
By hostyl1 on 11/28/2007 2:04:35 PM , Rating: 2
Just wanted to point out that the referred to document is a patent *application*, not a valid, granted patent. It may very well be possible that the application is denied for the reasons you stated (or a myriad of other reasons). But that has never stopped people from trying.


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