Now you've done it, Blockbuster
DVD rental giant Blockbuster (NYSE:BBI) threw a curve at Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) this week, lowering prices on a scaled-back version of its all-you-can-rent online plan. OK, so maybe it was more of a slider than a curveball. Blockbuster's new $16.99 plan is similar to the $17.99 deal offered by rival Netflix, allowing subscribers to have three rentals out at any time with no late fees. The program differs from Blockbuster's flagship Total Access offering, which rewards visitors with free rentals on every in-store exchange.

Yes, this is bad for Netflix. The last time it was trapped in a pricing war -- fearing that (NASDAQ:AMZN) was readying an entry into the market -- it wasn't pretty. Netflix has already scaled back its 2007 subscriber targets, and it may now be pressed into lowering prices or risk lowering its guidance again this year.

However, let's not call this a victory for Blockbuster. The chain wouldn't be doing this if its Total Access program was a hit. As I feared, it seems as if too many subscribers would come in for their free rentals without spending any money at the store. So Blockbuster was subsidizing the studio revenue-sharing deals and shortchanging its brick-and-mortar customers of physical inventory. Or maybe they weren't coming in at all, which could actually be a more troubling sign for a company like Blockbuster that needs to keep traffic coming to its stores.

Blockbuster hasn't said as such, but why would they be trying to wean users off of Total Access after it has spent so much to market the convenience of in-store exchanges?

In short, it's a lose-lose-win situation. Netflix loses. Blockbuster loses. Movie fans like you and me? We're the ones that win, though I have to wonder how much longer we'll be able to feast like this before Blockbuster's creditors twist the screws.

Keeping down with the Jones
Say goodbye to picking up a Jones Soda (NASDAQ:JSDA) bottle of cream soda as you fill your latte fix at your local Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX). The java-brewing king will stop stocking bottled Jones Soda beverages at its stores.

What a difference a year can make. Jones Soda got a boost last year, after Starbucks began stocking Jones Soda's diet black cherry pop, in addition to the root beer and cream soda that it has been making available in its coolers for years.

Without Starbucks as a distributor, Jones Soda will be hurt by the move, but it's also a testament to the company's growth. Its push into canned sodas at major retailers and supermarket chains demystifies the brand. Now that it is more readily available in so many places, original distribution points like Starbucks, Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS), and Panera (NASDAQ:PNRA) no longer feel as if they are carrying an exclusive product.

So I can see why Starbucks wants to move in a different direction, especially as it rolls out a wider food menu. I can also see why Jones Soda won't be looking back in anger as it trades one big partner for several more retailers.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz  recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look back. He is also part of theRule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, save for Netflix. The Fool has a disclosure policy.