So Apple’s gone and hired an international head of movies and television. Great. With iTunes rentals just starting in the U.S., and Jobs stating he wants to take it international very soon, this is a positive sign. Still, their hire is a bit, well, surprising to me.
The man they chose is Kevin Swint, head of the digital media market at Wal-Mart. That’s right, Wal-Mart:
- Our-video-store-didn’t-work-with-Macs Wal-Mart.
- We-love-Microsoft-and-their-DRM Wal-Mart.
- For-music-we-prefer-three-ways Wal-Mart.
It’s hard not to read this news with anything but a puzzled expression. I mean, Wal-Mart’s digital media is a bust. Their online music, despite including some Universal DRM-free titles, has gone nowhere. And as for video — you know, the thing Apple hired Swint for — after months of failure Wal-Mart had to shutdown their online store!
Regarding that online video store, Swint presided over all of it! From an interview a year ago:
“We’ve been working on this in a pretty intensive way for almost a year now,” says Swint. “I think all the studios understood quickly what we were trying to do.”
Wal-Mart is using PlaysForSure DRM so is limited to IE and PlaysForSure devices/PC for now. Swint: “We’re focusing on the device-space we can serve in the current market.
Clearly, with the store’s shutdown a year later the whole thing was a disaster. Why is Apple picking this guy up?
It’s certainly not for me to argue with how Apple’s management team chooses to bring in another member. They’re a great team, and I’m sure know how to pick ’em. I can only assume they see someone who’s brilliant mind and ideas were simply ignored by Wal-Mart’s top brass, hence the abject failure of Wal-Mart’s digital video initiative.
I certainly hope that’s the case. Going by what a regular guy like myself can see, anyone associated with Wal-Mart’s digital moves would be avoided at all costs.