On the surface Warner Brother’s new plan to sell movies and television programs online using file sharing networks seems brave and brilliant. Brave, because the company is making the effort to fight Internet pirates on their own turf, and brilliant, because the company is using an established P2P infrastructure that requires no investment on their part. Forget trying to build an iTunes killer, just take advantage of the delivery opportunities that are already in place.
Upon further investigation, however, the new In2Movies service looks like it might need some retooling.
Some issues immediately come to mind:
1. While they may be popular with millions of early adopters, file-sharing networks are too complex for the masses.
2. File sharing networks have virtual zero quality of service guarantee. How will WB ensure that downloads are quick and painless?
3. File sharing is just that – file sharing. Essentially, consumers will be asked to take an active role in distribution of WB’s product. Even more amazingly, WB will be asking consumers to pay for the privilege.
4. Presumably WB’s products will be competing along side pirated products that are available for free download (including, probably, some of the same titles WB is hoping to sell).
5. The initial test is limited to a small group of countries. The pilot will launch in Germany and expand to Austrian and Switzerland in March. The last time I checked it was nearly impossible to restrict file sharing to a single country.
Unless WB plans to create an entirely new file sharing system this pilot program is full of fatal flaws.