Irish startups aim at movie downloads… via kiosk

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Here’s an interesting one. Ireland-based PortoMedia is setting up kiosks that will let consumers download movies to a flash memory key or portable hard drive. The kiosks will be packed with hard drives that can hold 350 to 5,000 titles. Users then plug in a memory device from the company, enter a PIN code, and buy or rent a movie. When consumers get home, they simply slide the memory device into a dock connected to a TV. The hardware will sell for around $50 in the U.S. Founded by Chris Armstrong, PortoMedia did a trial run in Dublin at the end of 2007, with plans to go live in four U.S. cities toward the beginning of the second quarter. Negotiations with movie studios are ongoing. PortoMedia rentals can be for one, or multiple viewings, depending on the fee and service selected. Because the company can control access to the box and makes the devices for downloading movies, viruses become less of a worry. Movies rented from the service will comply with Microsoft DRM standards. I’m not sure if this has legs in the age of Internet downloads, but it’s an interesting play – but I see it more as a mobile option for big screen mobiles.

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