Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MOD (Made on Demand) Is Back

Made on demand--also known as MOD--is back, but will it succeed this time around? Twenty years ago, a company placed its made-on-demand cassette kiosks in the Sam Goody record chain. Customers sampled songs at the kiosks, punched in the numbers of the songs they wanted, typed in the name of their custom-made cassette, and picked it up at the cash register a few minutes later. The volume wasn’t there and the kiosks disappeared from the stores (and, in fact, the once thriving New York-based chain itself went through wrenching ownership and merchandise changes, but that’s a different story).

Now Mod Systems is pushing MOD in retail stores, with music, movies, TV shows, and other entertainment available for downloading onto SD chips from retail kiosks. (Here's a brief video clip.) With smart phones ever more popular, this idea seems more appealing than burning a DVD while customers wait (or remote ordering for later delivery). As this interview indicates, Toshiba, pushing its SD technology, has invested in Mod Systems.

However, I believe the challenge will be achieving volume from the in-store delivery format. Consumers have multiple options for immediate gratification, including: swapping digital music files; nearly ubiquitous availability of video on demand and DVR; and instantly viewable movies from Netflix and others. Going to a store to get media on an SD chip seems much less convenient. Shoppers, in short, are too limited an audience to make this a big winner, IMHO. What do you think?

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