Tag Archives | Vudu

Kindle Cloud Reader and Vudu: The Promise and Pitfalls of iPad Web Apps

iPhone to Support Third-Party Web 2.0 Applications
Innovative New Way to Create Applications for iPhone

WWDC 2007, SAN FRANCISCO—June 11, 2007—Apple® today announced that its revolutionary iPhone™ will run applications created with Web 2.0 Internet standards when it begins shipping on June 29. Developers can create Web 2.0 applications which look and behave just like the applications built into iPhone, and which can seamlessly access iPhone’s services, including making a phone call, sending an email and displaying a location in Google Maps. Third-party applications created using Web 2.0 standards can extend iPhone’s capabilities without compromising its reliability or security.

“Developers and users alike are going to be very surprised and pleased at how great these applications look and work on iPhone,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Our innovative approach, using Web 2.0-based standards, lets developers create amazing new applications while keeping the iPhone secure and reliable.”

Doesn’t that feel like a press release from another era? It is.

As everyone who knows anything about the iPhone and iPad knows, developers and users turned out not to be that surprised or pleased by Web apps running in Safari. But when Apple opened up its mobile operating system to true third-party apps in 2008, it set off an explosion of enthusiasm that hasn’t stopped.

There have always been some excellent Web apps for iOS–Google’s ambitious versions of Gmail for the iPhone and iPad spring to mind–but the vast majority of companies that have attempted to build something great for iOS have chosen the flexibility, power, and responsiveness of native apps over the open standards and cloud-based capabilities of Web apps. Which makes this week a notable one for iOS Web apps.

Today, Amazon.com released Kindle Cloud Reader, a browser-based version of its e-reader that works in Safari on the iPad (and Safari and Chrome on Windows PCs and Macs). It give you access to all the Kindle books you’ve bought, has a similar look and feel as the Kindle app, and includes a built-in version of the Kindle bookstore. (Amazon’s iOS Kindle apps deal with Apple’s new rules for in-app purchasing by serving only as readers, not online bookstores.) Cloud Reader’s arrival comes a day after movie-streaming service Vudu launched an entirely browser-based version which can deliver movies to the iPad, no app required.

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PS3 Gets Into Streaming Video With Vudu

Microsoft and Sony are in the midst of a video feature war on their respective game consoles. The Xbox 360 was first to get Netflix streaming. The Playstation 3 followed, and now includes access to Hulu Plus as well. Sony got into live sports with baseball and hockey. Microsoft tacked on ESPN3. The Xbox 360 got streaming video on demand from the Zune Marketplace, and now, Vudu is doing the same for the PS3.

On November 23, Vudu will be available as a free app from the Playstation Network. The service has over 4,000 HD movies for rent or purchase, streamed instantly, including its own HDX format for 1080p video. The PS3 app will support Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound, and owners of the Playstation Move motion controller can use it as a pointer for Vudu’s interface. Rentals on Vudu cost between $1 (for some standard-def movies) and $6, and purchases cost $5 to $25.

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Boxee Gets Vudu–on the Box, PCs, and Macs

The next chapter in the great Internet TV Box wars of 2010 will come next month, when D-Link ships the $199.99 Boxee Box, the long-awaited gadget which will compete with Apple TV, Google TV devices such as Logitech’s Revue, and Roku. Despite the fact that it’s almost here, it hasn’t been completely revealed–neither D-Link nor the Boxee folks have told all about the content services that’ll be available on it.

But here’s one piece of news: Vudu, the neat movie rental and purchase service which started out on its own hardware but has more recently shifted its strategy to being a streaming service available on devices such as Blu-Ray players and HDTVs, will also be on Boxee. And it won’t just be on Boxee’s box: You’ll be able to get Vudu content via Boxee’s software for PCs and Macs as well.

Like Amazon’s Video on Demand, Vudu will let you buy a movie or TV show once, then stream it to any computer or other gizmo you own that supports the Vudu service, giving you a video collection in the sky. As always, its specialty is content presented in as high-quality a form as possible: On the Boxee Box, it’ll is available in 1080p high definition with Dolby Digital+ sound. Sadly, though, only standard-definition content will be available on PCs and Macs, although Vudu’s best SD looks better than some “HD” I’ve seen.

Given that Google TV is so disappointing in its initial form, I’m more curious than ever about the Boxee Box. No word yet about other services it may have lined up–Netflix Watch Instantly and/or Hulu Plus would complement Vudu nicely.

(Full disclosure: My fiancée is employed by Vudu’s public relations agency.)


Wal-Mart Gets Themselves Some Vudu

Wow. The rumor was true. Wal-mart is indeed acquiring Vudu. Given the retailer’s prior failed attempt at digital media distribution and MediaMemo’s way-off financing stat, I had a difficult time buying it. But the deal is done – so congrats to the Vudu team.

Vudu’s story arc is interesting. From the beginning, and like many, I found the idea of a premium priced, dedicated movie box problematic. And suspected we had another Moviebeam on our hands as Vudu nearly folded late in 2008 when they discovered what most of us already knew. But after a few rounds of layoffs, a new strategy to port the Vudu experience to 3rd party hardware, a press relations agency upgrade, and additional financing, they quite successfully weathered the storm.

With Best Buy embracing TiVo and Napster it sort of makes sense Wal-mart would want a digital distribution partner of their own. Although the investors recouped their cash, consumers probably aren’t the big winner here. I fully expect Vudu’s AVN channel will be the first thing axed. And Dan Rayburn anticipates the whole enterprise, under Walmart’s stewardship, will fail.

I do hope the original stand-alone boxes see one more software upgrade to move them off P2P distribution and onto the CDN in use by all other Vudu devices. Rather than a complete shuttering. Also, in light of the acquisition, my plan to find a deal on a LG BD390 is on hold.

(This post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)


Vudu, Meet Wal-Mart

The New York Times’ Brad Stone is reporting that a source says that Wal-Mart is buying Vudu, the excellent Internet movie service that started out as a box but which has morphed into a feature built into HDTVs and Blu-Ray players. If so, it’s a smart move on Wal-Mart’s part. But also a potentially worrisome one: As Stone says, the Behemoth of Bentonville has a spotty record when it comes to selling digital content. Here’s hoping that it leaves Vudu pretty much as it is rather than messing with a good thing…


Vudu Goes Boxless

I knew that high-quality Internet movie download company Vudu was focusing on adding its cool service to other companies’ gadgets (like LG Blu-Ray players and Mitsubishi TVs) these days. But I guess I didn’t realize that it had dropped its elegant box until I read this mostly-favorable new review of LG’s Vudu-enabled Blu-Ray player by the New York Times’ David Pogue.

I’m sorry to see the Vudu box’s thumbwheel-driven remote control–possibly the best remote ever shipped by anybody for any device–go away. Ultimately, though, Vudu makes more sense as a feature than as another gizmo to squeeze into an entertainment center. Here’s hoping the new strategy works for this plucky and inventive little company.

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Vudu on LG Blu-Ray, Rotten Tomatoes on Vudu

Vudu LogoOver the past few months, Internet movie company Vudu has been in the process of morphing from a company that makes a box into a company that (also) licenses its platform to much larger consumer-electronics companies for incorporation into other devices. Yesterday, owners of LG’s BD390 Blu-Ray players got a software update that put the ability to rent and buy movies from Vudu capability on their players. To celebrate, Vudu held a press event at a screening room at Dolby Labs in San Francisco, where it streamed video in its HDX extra-high-quality HD onto a theater screen. It played without hiccups, held up well, and generally helped confirm that Vudu is a neat option for folks who want movies delivered via the Internet without any compromise in visuals or sound.

Also on display at the Dolby event was Mitsubishi’s 52-inch LT-52249 LCD TV with built-in Vudu–a drool-worthy $3099 1080p display that showed off Vudu’s razor-sharp video to impressive advantage. (The Bolt trailer has never looked so good.)

Vudu’s biggest limitation is that unlike humongous archrival iTunes, it’s only available in the living room–not on computers and portable devices. A Vudu representative at the event said that the company said that figuring out how to bring Vudu to more devices is on its to-do list.

The company also announced that Vudu has now integrated Rotten Tomatoes movie reviews into its service’s slick user interface, providing access to a much richer database of critiques as you browse for stuff to watch.


Video Streaming Box Announcements of the Week

Netgear Entertainer Live ($150)


The new Netgear Entertainer Live (EVA2000) was originally announced as a VuNow platform device at Netgear’s CES press conference back in January. At that time, I saw the unnamed Netgear product demo-ed using VuNow’s non-distinctive hardware, but has since been repackaged with some left over Netgear router enclosures. In addition to YouTube and CinemaNow VOD access, and unlikeRoku’s similar small box solution, the EVA 2000 is also capable of streaming a wide variety of local media. PlayOn is supported (and offered at a discount), but that PC-based software hack is only interesting until Hulu drops the hammer (technically or legally). However, this $150 box should gain a bit more traction thanVerismo’s VuNow with the Netgear brand and retail relationships.

LG BD390 Blu-ray Player with Vudu ($400)


Vudu continues to execute on their hardware diversification strategy as LG announces a network upgrade to their existing 802.11n-capable Blu-ray player. The smooth Vudu experience and extensive HD video-on-demand library joins Netflix on YouTube on the well-regarded connected BD390. While the $400 MSRP may seem a bit steep for what it offers and compared to the Sony unit below, this box can be found online for significantly less. We’re hopeful of taking a look at a review loaner in the near future.

Sony BDP-N460 Blu-ray Player with Bravia VOD (~$250)


Sony just unveiled a new Bravia-connected device at CEDIA. The BDP-N460 Blu-ray Player will be available in October “for about $250″ and features “Bravia” Internet services, including video-on-demand, YouTube, Slacker, and Netflix streaming. While it doesn’t incorporate the type of wireless connectivity found in the LG BD390 above, Sony’s upcoming model sure looks aggressively priced to boost holiday sales.

(This post republished from Zatz Not Funny.)

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5Words for February 24th, 2009

5wordsDid you notice Gmail’s outage?

Gmail: Down. Then back up.

David Pogue likes Kindle 2.

Want Office 14? Try 2010.

Happy birthday to Steve Jobs.

A $99 plug-PC.

Intuit: We weren’t bullying Mint.

Vudu sells high-definition movies.

A $200 Android app.

No Atlantis in Google Earth.

Microsoft retracts layoff-payback demand.

Most iPhone apps quickly bore.

Finally, a Hannah Montana PSP.

Hitachi buys storage startup Fabrik.

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Netflix via TiVo? Cool. But Not Cool Enough.

So TiVo and Netflix are announcing that their longstanding, apparently-dormant plans to work together have amounted to something after all: Starting in early December, owners of TiVo boxes will be able to stream movies and TV shows from NetFlix, and the cost is included in their monthly Netflix subscription. That’s good news. But it’s also by no means a substitute for the primary way Netflix distributes content–which is, of course, by shipping out DVDs in little red envelopes via snail mail.

That’s because traditional Netflix offers more than a hundred thousand titles, while Netflix Watch Instantly includes only about a tenth as many. Netflix’s own promotion for the Internet-based service stresses that it offers a “separate, smaller” selection of content, and that it includes “very few” new releases. (When was the last time you heard any company use the word “few” when discussing the choice it offers?)

You can’t blame Netflix for the skimpy selection–Hollywood just remains incredibly backwards when it comes to licensing movie and TV content for Internet distribution. And even though some other purveyors of Net-based video have a lot more stuff than Netflix Watch Instantly, including new releases, nobody offers what you really want: A service as comprehensive as traditional Netflix that lets you watch everything instantly on every digital device you own.

After the jump, a quick look at some of the major competitors.

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