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Kiosk Exhibitors Grow at EMA Show

26 Jun, 2008 By: Billy Gil

iMozi representatives flank the company's new kiosk.

Exhibitors are touting the burgeoning movie kiosk industry at the 2008 Home Media Expo, with the number of kiosk exhibitors roughly doubling since the 2007 show, according to show organizers.

Polar Frog Digital, which calls itself a “digital rack jobber,” provides an on-demand platform and in-store DVD burning for rental and sellthrough, complete with copy protection, as well as digital downloading. Polar Frog currently has 12 free-standing kiosks at such outlets as military bases and a Long's Drugs in Walnut Creek, Calif., but the company also is seeking to offer its digital platform to partners.

Polar Frog boasts more than 10,000 video titles from independent studios in its library. Titles are searchable on Polar Frog's interface, with additional information such as actors in the film and other films featuring those actors.

“The holdup [in upping the number of kiosks with Polar Frog technology] is the studios providing the right content,” said Todd Rosenbaum, CEO of Polar Frog. “The content has to match the price of admission.”

Rosenbaum added the company hopes to provide special interest content to such non-traditional retailers as home construction, sporting goods, beauty supply, fast food and airports.

“We're not trying to replace physical goods,” Rosenbaum said. “We're a channel provider.”

Meanwhile Polar Frog has licensed its technology to iMozi, which unveiled its new digital and physical rental/sellthrough kiosk at the show. This is the first kiosk for the company to offer both physical and digital content, including video content and video games. The kiosks can offer in-store burning or physical product in its original packaging. Additionally, titles can be reserved at iMozi kiosks online. Through extensions described as similar to building blocks, the iMozi kiosk also can offer such content as music downloads, CD burning, ringtones, wallpapers and photo printing.

“The key in the business is to [not just depend on] new release,” said Jay Dadrass, product development manager for iMozi. “It's a new release business, but with DVD on demand, you don't have to worry about that.”

The iMozi kiosks also feature digital signage promoting content offered in the kiosk.

Eric Zetlin of MOD Systems, which will have a speaker at the Digital Retail Business Models panel today at 1:30 p.m., said his company, like other kiosk players, is looking for more video content for its digital media distribution software (it currently features mostly music on demand). Zetlin said MOD has “tier two” content, with catalog and special interest video, and is looking to also move into game delivery.

MOD Systems is a software company, but the company also developed and distributes “PODs,” which include touchscreens, USB ports for digital distribution, headphone jacks, a magnetic card reader, a bar code scanner and Ethernet support.

Videomatic, a European company now making inroads in the United States, also displayed its automatic video and game dispensers at the show. On hand at the show is Jose A. Salinas, owner/operator of a Videomatic-branded store in Laredo, Texas — one of four Videomatic stores in the United States, as of the end of June.

Videomatic machines are akin to an ATM, capable of holding more than 2,000 discs, including movies (all genres, including adult) and games. Discs are rented or bought by becoming a member of the store in question, then swiping the membership card at the machine; Salinas' Laredo store, for example, has 14 screens, capable of renting more than 10,000 discs, with a small display and membership area in the back of the store, according to Salinas.

“The video business is a little bit stale to retailers and to customers,” Salinas said. “What we've been doing is taking it to the next level. We're still video stores, but we're automated.”

Salinas said he was able to build his Videomatic store from scratch, using only 2,000 square feet and two additional employees, versus the other, traditional video store he owns, which takes up 5,000 square feet and has eight employees.

“Every major cost category, you cut,” Salinas said.

The new store registers members in the back, where parents can set parental controls and ratings are enforced on kiosks via the registered memberships. However, an added bonus is that renters wishing to grab adult titles, for example, don't have to deal with clerks directly. Salinas said that has resulted in an increase in female renters of adult content.

But one of the best features that kiosks such as the Videomatic ones offer, according to multiple Videomatic purveyors, is that in essence, kiosks can offer 24-hour service. Salinas's shop, for example, opens at 12 p.m. and closes at 10 p.m., but the kiosks are available at all times — only the back of the store closes.

“Why wait until 10 a.m. for Blockbuster to open up across the street?” Salinas said.

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