March 1, 2011, 12:12 PM

Redbox lets mobile consumers find and reserve DVDs

Redbox, known for its DVD kiosks, lets mobile users find kiosks and reserve DVDs.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Lead Photo

DVD rental company Redbox Automated Retail LLC, known for renting DVDs via its bright red kiosks at supermarkets, drug stores and fast food locations, has upgraded its iPhone app and launched an app for Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating platform.

Redbox, which has 26,000 kiosks and has rented more than 1 billion DVDs to consumers, launched its iPhone app in December 2009 and just added the Android app. Both apps enable users to reserve DVDs via their mobile devices for pick-up at nearby kiosk locations.

“Our online and mobile tools instantly connect consumers to our retail locations nationwide, delivering real-time access to inventory at any location from virtually anywhere,” says Gary Cohen, senior vice president of marketing and customer experience.

Both apps also show consumers the locations of nearby Redbox kiosk stations, titles available at each station and DVD box art. The Redbox iPhone app has been downloaded more than two million times, the company says. And the newest version of that app, now available for free in the Apple App Store, offers 50% faster connection speeds than the company’s original iPhone app, Redbox says.

Additionally, mobile consumers can text “redbox” to 50101 from a mobile phone to find the nearest kiosk. Redbox, a wholly owned subsidiary of Coinstar Inc., also offers a list of kiosk locations on its web site. Each Redbox kiosk holds 630 discs and up to 200 titles. Consumers use a touchscreen to select a movie, and swipe a credit or debit card to pay. Redbox kiosks are found at McDonald’s restaurants; grocery, drug and convenience stores; and some Wal-Mart and Walgreens locations.

While Redbox is making updates to its mobile channel, it faces steep mobile competition from DVD rental and streaming subscription service Netflix. In August, Netflix launched a free app for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices that enables subscribers to instantly stream video to their handsets. It also offers mobile movie streaming to Windows Phone 7 devices.

“Apple has changed the game for mobile devices,” Reed Hastings, Netflix co-founder and CEO, said when announcing the mobile streaming service. “We’re excited that our members can now carry Netflix around in their pockets and instantly watch movies and TV shows streamed from Netflix.”

The app enables users to fast-forward or rewind the video stream and stop at any time. When users want to start watching again, the video stream starts up where it was stopped. Subscribers also can pick up a movie started on a mobile device on a different device capable of streaming from Netflix, such as a TV or a PC. In November Netflix said its members now watch more content streamed over the Internet than on discs delivered by mail.

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