Vudu voodoo

Does Vudu really have the Holy Grail of digital TV entertainment? It looks like. Even if the idea of conquering the entertainment world by selling settop boxes seems a bit ridiculous.

The facts: afetr two years in stelath mode, the news are starting to trickle out. Gizmodo has a picture. The NY Times has got the facts.
In a nutshell, it goes like this: Vudu is the video stoe of the 21st century. No walk-ins. No “we mail you your DVD and you send it back”. Everythings happening in front of your tv, with instant gratification. Press the button, watch the show.

And instead of ruining itself with a monstrous centralized server installation, Vudu is going to be assisted by all its users. The cute little settop boxes are part of a peer to peer network. But the real magic of Vudu has been happening behind the scenes. All major studios are workig with Vudu. Except Sony Pictures, as they probably have their own, PlayStatoin-related plans to take care of.

The somewhat crazy part of Vudu is of course the settop boxes business. Because in the real world., that’s no business at all. As you will have to convince consumers that they have to shell out §300 for the privilege of watching movies in DVD quality on their tv sets. Which means: the brazen early adopter has to stack another box on top of his cable box, his DVD player, his tivo …

The good news is: they might just get rid of the hardware an end up as a software stack. And the even better news is: compared to the personal video recorder business, where the early overs like tivo and replay became almost something like an endangered species, Vudu has a big advantage: their contracts with the studios. But Sony and Microsoft (yup, the Xbox) have another thing going for them: theri some million boxes are already deployed. But hey: why shouldn’t there be a Vudu outlet in the Xbox or PlayStation mall next to your screen? It’s just a piece of software.

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