Seagate is sexing up its FreeAgent Go external drives with 20 pre-loaded Paramount Pictures movies costing $9.99 to unlock.
A weekend report in the US edition of the Financial Times revealed the new way of selling drives by Seagate and quoted Darcy Clarkson, Seagate's VP for sales and marketing. He was responding to the point that a quarter of Seagate's FreeAgent Go customers use their drives for backup and some 70 per cent use them to augment internal hard drive space on their PCs and notebooks. Clarkson said: "We think if we are to grow this market we have to find new uses for hard drives."
The preloaded movies will include GI Joe, The Love Guru - with Star Trek (2009) available at no charge. Customers can view the movies on their PCs and notebooks or on TVs via Seagate's Free Agent Theater Plus docking system. It's not clear how much of the FreeAgent Go drive's up to 1TBB capacity will be used by the movies. The cost per movie will be that of the Go drive, plus the $9.99 unlock fee, which gets you unlimited viewing.
A competing business model might be to load a drive completely with movies and sell it at very low or no cost, relying on unlock license fees for revenue. Imagine a terabyte external drive loaded with, say, 100 movies, each costing $9.99 to view. Let's say average customers unlock 40 movies per drive - that's almost $400 of revenue, enough to cover the cost of the drive, assuming a reasonable purchase cost.
Both Paramount Pictures and Seagate hope people will start building digital home movie collections on hard drives. Seagate competitor Western Digital has an e-ink labelling feature for some of its external drives, a simple and small black and white screen. It seems obvious that people building digital home movie collections on external hard drives will need a comprehensive labelling system to show the contents, such as a scrollable mobile phone screen or digital camera screen, otherwise locating a move in a multi-drive collection could become tedious with a whole sequence of dock load/unload cycles. ®