Instant gratification with instant downloads

Click nowPatience may be a virtue, but it’s not one of mine. I have little free time and I want to make the most of it. That means I keep errands to a minimum and do a lot of online shopping. When Amazon offered Prime service – free two-day shipping or pay $4 for overnight – I signed up even though it costs me $80 a year. The convenience is worth it, and I pay that extra $4 surprisingly often. Compared to a 30 minute trip to the store, it’s a no-brainer.

Of course, instant downloads are even faster than overnight delivery. Music downloads are practically old hat these days, but did you know you can download books and movies too?

Amazon offers a cool gadget called Kindle, a portable reading device, but you don’t need this to download books. Look for Amazon Upgrade, a service offered on many of their books. With this, you can read, highlight, and make notes on your books as you read them on your computer.

As for movies…check out the iTunes store, Amazon Unbox, and even Netflix. All offer downloadable movies and TV shows. In fact, recent TV episodes are often available to watch online at TV network websites. Watch them on your computer, or run a few wires and play them on your TV with full stereo sound.

Netflix fan tries Moviecube

MoviecubeI’m a long-time fan of Netflix and started renting from them in the early days, when all DVDs shipped from California and I had to wait days for fresh flicks if I didn’t plan carefully.

Lately it’s been so easy to rent pay-per-view from my Moxi (Charter Cable’s Tivo equivalent) that I have relied on that more than anything else. I haven’t been in a BlockBuster for years, except to accompany my dad while home for the holidays.

Occasionally I’d still rent new releases from the local Schnucks grocery store down the street, so I took note when they shut down the video department and used it to expand the pharmacy. Shortly thereafter, the Moviecube showed up. Several people, a few hundred square feet of prime real estate…all replaced by a tall automated box.

Even though the rental price has dropped from $3.25 to $1, their costs have dropped as well. Schnucks is probably making more money with far less effort.

For the consumer, it’s quick and easy, although you browse a small LCD screen instead of aisles of DVDs. Pick a movie, swipe your credit card, and wait for the movie to pop out, just like a candy machine. Juno was completely checked out so I had to settle for Dan in Real Life, but that could have happened even with the old video department.

What’s the Moviecube of your business? What business opportunities will appear if you automate, or disappear if you don’t?