After a trial run performed in Ireland in 2007, Irish company PortoMedia will soon be introducing movie kiosks into four as-of-yet-unnamed American cities from which customers will download the title of their choice into a flash key, the MovieKey. Film lovers will then play their movies on any computer or TV with a USB port. The kiosk will contain a hard drive, loaded with up to 5,000 DVD-quality films that can be downloaded in less than twenty seconds. HD films will take around a


Probably the biggest advantage is that the movies will not have to be sent back or returned. They are erased on the due date, or after a certain number of viewings. Retailers will benefit from reduced production and storage costs, while renters will be able to choose from a greater film selection than generally seen in DVD kiosks or video stores; rentals will also be cheaper than DVD rentals.

One potential problem is the cost of the flash card and auxiliary media: before renting, renters will have to purchase between $50-$160 worth of equipment (flash key, dock, and movie bundle). This initial start-up price, especially from an unproven technology, might keep potential customers away.

The digital media delivery company has lined up a strong list of partners – IBM, Seagate, Samsung, and Toshiba – and is in advanced negotiations with the major Hollywood studios. PortoMedia is currently slated to offer its kiosks in more than 30 countries.

In a market saturated with content-delivery options, from video stores to Netflix to video streaming, it might be difficult to establish a niche, unless they can establish a strong library as will cost effectiveness from the beginning.

By Mark Alvarez