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Digital Content Kiosks Rock On

A newly introduced unmanned kiosk that lets consumers burn movies, music, and other media onto CDs is getting huge interest, with three Fortune 500 companies about to test the kiosks and others already rolling them out.
Mediaport is building Bluetooth into the application and expects to introduce the feature in its kiosks by January. One song transferred via Bluetooth technology takes less than 10 seconds. The kiosk will eventually allow consumers to download content to a cellular phone via Bluetooth.

One kiosks costs about $8,500. All content is protected with digital rights management (DRM) software. There is a video screen for advertisers to attract consumers as they shop for digital content. Inside the kiosks sits a standard CPU with keyboard, point of sale system (POS), and CD burner.

The hardware is monitored and digital content is updated from Mediaport's network operating center in Salt Lake City, Utah via the Internet. Each kiosk has its own IP address to deliver content. Without remote monitoring and updates, it would cost more to maintain than to lease the machines, Butler said.

EMI Music reported last month and Warner Music in December 2004 they would make catalogs available in kiosks on college campuses, retail stores and other locations throughout the United States through MediaATMs.

And content distribution to portable devices is quick. A full length feature film, such as Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, downloads in three minutes, Butler said. Mediaport is working with movie studios to gain distribution rights.

Francie Mendelsohn, president at Summit Research Associates Inc. said "It sounds good, but come on, three minutes? I'm a little skeptical on the speed."

"One thing's for sure," she added, "We'll kiss CDs goodbye soon because they just don't have enough capacity. The companies that can build in the functionality to the kiosks will be "fat, dumb, and happy when this medium takes off."

Although the market for music, books and movies is emerging, self-service and interactive kiosks show promise. "Entertainment today is nine percent of all kiosks," Mendelsohn said.