Microsoft’s new retail guru Porter has history of working against Apple

Microsoft Corp. on Thursday hired David Porter, a 25-year veteran of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., to oversee the development and opening of the software giant’s first retail stores.

Porter has a history of working against Apple.

Ronald Grover reported for BusinessWeek back in August 2006, “A 23-year Wal-Mart Stores veteran, David Porter is the person at the retail giant who orders DVDs and slashes prices to move them. But this summer, Porter has been one of Hollywood’s hottest acts, taking meetings with top studio brass like a producer with a hot script. His pitch: Wal-Mart isn’t happy.”

“That prospect tends to send shivers through Hollywood’s Gucci-toed corner offices. As the largest seller of DVDs, Wal-Mart accounts for roughly 40% of the $17 billion in DVDs that will be sold this year, a financial lifeline to big-spending studios. But now Wal-Mart’s video business faces a potential threat by Steve Jobs and Apple, which in mid-September, sources tell BusinessWeek, plans to announce it will start offering movie downloads from its iTunes store,” Grover reported. “The notion of kids running around with full-length movies on new, wider-screen iPods that Apple is expected to unveil as well is causing grief in Bentonville, according to Hollywood executives. The $312 billion a year retailer, they say, wants concessions that could include lower DVD wholesale prices.”

Grover reported, “With Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott assigning his point man Porter to roam the halls of major studios, skittish executives have for months delayed giving Jobs the rights to distribute their movies through his new service. The price Apple hopes to charge, now set at $14.99 for new releases and $9.99 for older movies, has risen from Jobs’s initial plan to offer new flicks for $9.99, say industry insiders… Executives who have met with Porter say [Wal-Mart] wants marketing help when it launches its own planned download site.”

MacDailyNews Note: A year after opening its movie download service, Wal-Mart closed up shop.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: According to Microsoft’s press release, “In his last role at Wal-Mart, Porter was vice president and general merchandise manager of Entertainment, where he served as a strategic point of influence throughout the Wal-Mart business.” In other words, it seems that Microsoft has hired the guy who helped run Wal-Mart’s defunct movie download site straight into the ground to launch their retail store initiative. That the store’s product was iPod- and Mac-incompatible didn’t help, either. Watching Microsoft’s latest mess unfold and fold is going to be fun!

*Note: In February 2008, Apple hired Kevin Swint, Wal-Mart’s former Digital Media Head, after the video service closed, reportedly based on Swint’s “success of signing on studios,” arguably the only successful part of Wal-Mart’s endeavor, according to a report by Seth Weintraub for Computerworld last February.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Stephen” for the heads up.]

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