Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Red Box Manifesto

I have to admit that I am a relative late-comer to the Red Box revolution.
About a year ago, one of these strange red contraptions appeared in front of my local grocery store. I was not sold, though I was a bit intrigued. Then, a few months later I was handed a coupon at the end of the check-out line. It said the magic words -- free movie, just input secret code. A sucker for free, I promptly went to the box thing and was immediately impressed with the ease of check out and the decent selection. I quickly discovered that the free offer only worked one time per credit card and so over the next few days I had to keep careful track of which cards had rented a glorious free movie and which were still eligible.

The magic of the Red Box experience is in its immediate gratification. I am a long time Netflix subscriber and a alpha (now beta) tester of Boxee. Both are amazing, but both have limitations. Netflix is all about massive selection and delayed gratification. Boxee is all about discovery, social media and casting off your chains of servitude to big media. However, neither really works to scratch the old movie store itch where you could go rent a current movie and watch it that same day. Red Box gives you this immediate gratification. And did I mention it only costs a $1?

But it is precisely this strength which is Red Box's weakness. People versed in either the ways of Netflix/Boxee or their local Blockbuster store do not naturally have the finely-honed skill set necessary for successfully navigating the Red Box. When you are sitting in your living room surfing Boxee or on your home computer queuing up your next movies on Netflix, you have the luxury of time and privacy. The same is true to a lesser extent when you are at a Blockbuster -- you can wander the stacks for hours, perusing the backs of DVD cases, chatting with your significant other about the last movie he or she saw and what he or she wants to see next. You have all the time in the world.

This is not true of the Red Box. Especially when it is outside. Even more so when you have a line of people behind you. And it is raining. Seriously.

Please people -- have some awareness of the suffering of your fellow humans!

After much consideration, I have prepared the following RED BOX MANIFESTO. My hope is that you will print it out and tape it to your local Red Box. It may save lives and it will at the very least save folks like me some aggravation.

The Red Box Manifesto

1. You are not in the privacy of your home. People can see and hear you. Please act accordingly.

2. If you do not know what you want, try searching by genre or something. Paging through every single movie takes a really long time.

3. Let me repeat that -- Paging through every single movie takes a really long time. If people are waiting, maybe you should just make a decision?

4. Even if you don't page through them all, discussing with your sweetie-pie the relative merits of every single movie also takes a really long time. Maybe you could just let one of you be in charge on a given night? Take turns or something?

5. If people are waiting and you have no idea what you want, see if the next person back is only there to do a return. It takes like 10 seconds to return a movie, let them go in front of you.

Corollary to 5. No need to let everyone go in front of you. Just the person right behind you. Let's not get too crazy here people.

6. Maybe you don't need to rent 4 movies? I mean seriously folks, are you really going to watch all of those tonight? If not, you just wasted a dollar. Why not rent 2 now and then rent 2 more tomorrow when you return the first pair?

7. Before you return the DVD, try wiping it off? I have no idea what you are doing with these disks, but I don't want to touch most of them.

Hope this is helpful. Please let me know if I missed any key Red Box commandments. Our revolution is open to the masses, no need to limit it to a video vanguard.

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Dividends and Preferences by Hank Heyming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.