Anyone familiar with the recent South Park episode called “A Nightmare on Facetime”? In a nutshell, Blockbuster stores were pretty slavishly bashed, being basically called haunted houses where only spirits and ghosts still dare to set foot in.
And while that looked like a pretty realistic picture – I honestly didn’t even know there were still Blockbuster brick and mortar stores open – we might soon see a comeback from the home video rental service provider.
No, renting of DVDs is not going back in style anytime soon, but Blockbuster might be looking to draw up new audiences by… selling phones. What does that have to do with the company’s focus ever since 1985? Very little as far as we can tell, but it’s actually all part of a bigger plan devised by Billboard’s new “father”, Dish.
Dish Network, as you may already know, is looking to extend its area of expertise beyond just satellite broadcasting. To do that, the Colorado-based giant has gone into a real shopping spree last year, acquiring several companies knee-deep in financial trouble. Among them, there were names like DBSD and Terrestar, but also Blockbuster. Subsequently, Dish made a move to buy Hulu as well, but failed.
What was unclear all along however were Dish’s plans for these struggling companies, especially Blockbuster. And while Dish is still reluctant to officially announce if Blockbuster will stay in its usual business of renting and streaming video content, it’s pretty obvious there will be a new focus or at least a new one in addition to the old – mobile.
Blockbuster’s online store has already started selling Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile phones, and, if we are to trust Bloomberg, the handhelds will be up for grabs in 850 brick and mortar locations across the US as soon as next year.
But is this only a first step for Dish? We can only speculate at this time, but we know there are plans for building an entirely new mobile network in the States, which might go live by 2016. The plans were set back earlier this year by the FCC, but, according to new reports, they’re back on track.
Not only that, but there are also speculations that Dish might have joined forces with Google to make this new wireless service reality and that just makes us more excited about the whole thing. Even if we still don’t fully understand Blockbuster’s planned role in this and even if we’re very much aware of how tough would be for Dish and Google to go against the untamed forces that are Verizon, AT&T and even Sprint and T-Mobile.
Any other thoughts? Do you think the Blockbuster brand can be resuscitated through mobile? Would you ever buy a phone from a Blockbuster store? How about a phone on a Google-Dish network?