Coinstar looks for the next big thing in automated retail.

Coinstar’s Redbox business began 2010 by renting out more movie DVDs and Blu-ray discs in the first three months than Blockbuster — a major milestone cast as David toppling Goliath.

Nine months later, Blockbuster had gone belly up, and Redbox was second only to Netflix as a source of inexpensive movie rentals, solidifying its place as a dominant player in the U.S. home-entertainment market.

At the end of 2010, Redbox operated 30,200 self-service machines dispensing movie DVDs for a dollar a day at supermarkets, drugstores, fast-food restaurants and other places shoppers regularly visit. Redbox took in nearly $1.2 billion last year, accounting for 80 percent of Coinstar’s total revenue.

Bellevue-based Coinstar began buying into Redbox in 2005, when it was a fledgling McDonald’s venture, and took full ownership in 2009.

Although Coinstar has since sold businesses unrelated to Redbox and its namesake coin-counting machines, it continues to look for the next big thing in automated retail.

Redbox, for example, will add video-game rentals costing $2 a day to more than 21,000 locations nationwide by July 1.

Also, Coinstar has injected an undisclosed amount of money into ecoATM, a new venture that seeks to provide a convenient way for people to get cash for their old electronic devices, such as cellphones and iPods.

Still, whether 2011 has a happy ending for Coinstar could depend on what Redbox does next.

Some on Wall Street have grown impatient with Redbox’s indeterminate plans to introduce a video-streaming service on top of physical disc rentals.

In February, Redbox President Mitch Lowe told analysts the company was getting closer to finding an online partner for an unlimited streaming offer to take on Netflix. But the company has said only that full details will be released this year.

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Albertsons Completes Chain-Wide Installation of DVD Rental Kiosks

Albertson’s, LLC has completed the deployment of Coinstar’s RedBox DVD rental kiosks at all 248 of its locations across the country, with the installation of units at 116 locations in Arizona, Florida and New Mexico.

“Albertsons’ commitment to our customer is to deliver the service and merchandise they want at an affordable price,” said Bob Butler, Albertson’s LLC SVP of marketing and merchandising. “Redbox is a great fit for our stores, and has proven to be a popular service that is convenient, easy to use and affordable.”

The DVD kiosks are part of Coinstar’s 4th Wall solutions, of which Albertsons was an early adopter. The solution consists of selections from a variety of options, including self-service coin counting, DVD rental, money transfer, electronic payment solutions and entertainment services.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertson’s, LLC operates 248 stores under the Albertsons banner in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas.

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