Wal-Mart goes to the cloud

For a small fee, the retailer will digitize customers’ discs and create a personal online library
Lyndsie Bourgnon

DVDs and Blu-rays might already be yesterday’s technology, thanks to Wal-Mart. The retailer announced plans for a service that takes customers’ discs and, for a small fee, digitizes the content and stores it in “the cloud”—essentially a personal online library. Users can then stream their videos on Internet-connected devices, from iPads to TVs.

The announcement follows a strategy from Apple, which lets iTunes users stream purchases anywhere through its iCloud service. But some analysts wonder if Wal-Mart customers will pay for such a non-essential and still not well-understood technology. According to the Global Language Monitor, references to “the cloud” have topped its list of most confusing terms since 2010.

Still, many tech experts see potential. David Fraser, a privacy and technology lawyer with McInnes Cooper in Halifax, says most people use cloud computing every day—from emailing to photo sharing—whether they know it or not. And even though Wal-Mart’s service is not exactly a must-have, Tracy Staniland of the Toronto computing firm Asigra Inc. can see consumers using it, if only for the ease of having a movie collection without the physical fuss.