http://blog.moviefone.com/images/2005/11/Wal%20Mart.jpgIt took long enough, but Wal-Mart now has its own movie download service online. The retail company has been whining about this alternative to DVD consumption for over a year, and it may even have halted the progress of iTunes and other services. But there was no way that it couldn't follow the format into the future; in November it officially entered the download game with a single title, Superman Returns.

Of course -- as if we didn't see this coming -- Wal-Mart is offering some movies and TV shows at a cheaper rate than the competition. It also has titles from all of the major studios, though it is missing most of the major television networks. So far it only has 3,000 titles, with newer movies sold for a higher price than older movies, just as other services do. The site launched today is also only in a Beta stage, so it could have some glitches (it won't work at all in Firefox) -- though hopefully none as bad as the recommendations scandal.

Wal-Mart could be hurting itself a bit by giving in and selling movie downloads, as this will only contribute to the problem of decreased DVD sales, which the company depends on so dearly. But the decision to finally launch a download service may be in relation to news that Hollywood is permitting download-to-burn technology, which will likely be used in download kiosks that will be located in Wal-Mart stores. With these kiosks, Wal-Mart could still attract customers the same way it currently does with low-price DVDs. Still, Wal-Mart isn't yet allowing its downloads to be burned to a disc. It hopes to allow this later in the year -- probably after it figures out a definite kiosk game plan.