Blockbuster Could Start Selling Phones

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Posted 5 years ago

Before the whole world went digital and started watching movies and box sets on the likes of Netflix and Hulu, Blockbuster was king. The movie rental store was the place to go if you wanted to grab the latest films as soon as they were released on DVD. However, in recent years, the company has been in a downward spiral, with stores closing across the country as people favor on-demand services over the traditional disc rental. So low is the company’s relevance at the moment, that they are reportedly branching out into the world of mobile phone retail.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Blockbuster owners Dish Network, who acquired the movie rental chain last year, will begin using brick and mortar stores as a test for their planned entry in to the competitive wireless business.

Bloomberg cites two people with “knowledge on the matter” and reports on Dish awaiting rules from the Federal Communications Commission on how to use wireless airwaves that they have recently acquired. Dish currently uses Blockbuster’s 850 retail stores to market their own satellite TV service and the plan is to bring the already up and running “Blockbuster Mobile” online service to locations across the country.

Blockbuster’s online mobile business sells phones from Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA amongst others and bringing the service to stores may seem like a good idea for Dish to get the ball rolling on their own network. However, there is one glaring problem – who on earth is going to go to a movie rental store to buy a mobile phone?

People that still go to Blockbuster do so with the intention of picking up the latest Batman movie and some Milk Duds, not pick up an iPhone on a two-year deal. As Bloomberg points out, AT&T and Verizon dominate the wireless market with more than 4,000 stores nationwide. A person looking for a new phone is hardly likely to visit a Blockbuster outlet before checking out the major carrier stores first, in fact, with only 850 of the once 9000 stores still in existence, many people will struggle to find a Blockbuster at all.

To stand any chance of being successful, Dish is going to have to make renting a movie and buying a mobile phone seem like the done thing. Yeah, good luck with that!

– Anthony Carter

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