As more and more content goes digital, brick-and-mortar stores are going to have to come up with new ways to sell said content. Luckily Red Touch Media can help. This Salt lake City based retail services company was at CES this week showing off their new service. They've developed a platform which will enable stores to set up a kiosk and sell movies, music and ebooks. I stopped by their booth earlier today and they gave me a tour. The demo was equal parts creepy and interesting.
The creepyness comes from the face recognition features. Besides just selling content, Red Touch Media has included a way for the kiosk to serve up ads based on the gender and age of the customer using the kiosk. It was quite accurate, too, and that's a good thing for the retailers which will be installing the kiosks.
The kiosks on display at CES were built for the show, so they don't look like the ones which will be customized for retailers but they do offer all the same features. They're capable of selling movies music, and ebooks to customers. Customers can download the purchased content onto a thumb drive, over Wifi (hardware permitting), or they can set up an account with RTM and have the content delivered to the mobile app which RTM is planning to release soon.
Given that customers can download to a thumb drive, I'm sure you're wondering about DRM. That was my first thought, so I kept bugging them until they could tell me. It turns out that the music (sold as mp3) and the ebooks (sold as Mobi) don't have DRM. Only the video content has DRM.
What's even more interesting is that the mp3 music doesn't even have digital watermarks, making RTM something of an odd duck (Amazon, Apple, and Google Play all use digital watermarks).
The lack of ebook DRM might explain why RTM has signed a number of movie studios and record labels but not any book publishers.
In spite of what I was told, I'm going to assume that the current ebook support will end up being merely a beta test for the platform. I don't think it's very likely that RTM will be able to sign many book publishers so long as they don't wrap the ebooks in DRM and they certainly won't sign the major publishers. At the very least they are going to have to add a digital watermark feature to the platform, otherwise RTM won't be able to sign very many book publishers.
All in all, it's an interesting idea and definitely a more practical way to get digital content sales into brick-and-mortar stores than the txtr-ReaderLink partnership announced earlier this week. I could easily see these kiosks standing next to the RedBox DVD rental kiosks now found in most grocery stores.