Blockbuster fights for its rental life with strong iPhone app

Jan 5, 2010
Entertainment

As companies like Netflix and Redbox move into Blockbuster’s well-worn movie rental territory, the former giant has crafted a creative iPhone app that allows it to maintain a physical presence while expanding its online rental business. The Blockbuster iPhone app’s (free) most interesting feature is that it once you’ve found a movie you’re interested in renting, you’re provided two options. […]

As companies like Netflix and Redbox move into Blockbuster’s well-worn movie rental territory, the former giant has crafted a creative iPhone app that allows it to maintain a physical presence while expanding its online rental business.

The Blockbuster iPhone app’s (free) most interesting feature is that it once you’ve found a movie you’re interested in renting, you’re provided two options. The first, which is most familiar to Netflix customers, is to add it to your Blockbuster queue.

The second, which is unique to Blockbuster, is the ability to see if a store location near you has the movie in stock. The iPhone app uses the iPhone’s location services to pinpoint where you are, and then it brings up a long list of local Blockbuster stores that have your movie in stock. In the few tests I ran, the iPhone app seemed accurate, making this a fun little feature if you’re a Blockbuster customer who really wants to see a movie without waiting for it to arrive from your queue. It also smartly emphasizes one of the few advantages Blockbuster has over its rental competition.

Aside from that feature, the Blockbuster iPhone app offers few surprises. You can search for films by actor, title, or director. The page layout of the iPhone app makes sense and isn’t too cluttered or confusing. It even offers a link to a Web page to subscribe to the Blockbuster online service if you’re not currently a member.

The only fault to be found with the Blockbuster iPhone app is the inability to sort your movie searches. For instance, searching for “Stallone” brings up a bevy of movies featuring Sylvester Stallone, but if you want to sort them by genre, year, or title, it seems like you’re out of luck, at least as far as I could tell. That makes finding the actual movie you’re looking for a bit more cumbersome than it should be.

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That said, those who use the Blockbuster service would do well to subscribe to this iPhone app, and if your old Blockbuster card is collecting dust in the recesses of your wallet, maybe this free app is just what you need to reconsider your old blue-and-yellow friend.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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