After a year in the business of selling downloads Wal-Mart decides to get out.

Wal-Mart shut down the download site after Hewlett Packard Co discontinued the technology that powered it, Walmart.com spokeswoman Amy Colella said in an e-mail. She added that it will not look for another technology partner.

Wal-Mart will continue offering physical DVDs for sale at its stores and online, but would not continue the online downloads business, said Colella, who declined to disclose the number of downloads sold on the site.

I’ve never really understood what the big box retailers think they’re bringing to the online party other than their ability to market the service to their customers in the brick and mortar stores and Sunday circulars.  But having a captive audience for paper hand-outs doesn’t really sound like a strong business strategy to me.  But then again, there was a time when K-Mart was trying to become a network provider

But the Internet just strikes me as too fluid for this kind of customer control. A lot of people who start using your service will quickly become savvy users and move onto something with more freedom and/or better value.

As a bonus to their online customers Wal-Mart also giving their audience free lessons in how DRM makes something that is yours not yours anymore:

A message at www.walmart.com/videodownloads said the service was stopped on December 21 and Wal-Mart offered no refunds for the downloaded videos.image

Videos purchased on Walmart.com can be played using the Microsoft Windows Media Player or the Wal-Mart Video Download Manager, but cannot be transferred to a computer other than the one used to download them, according to the site.

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