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External content and other things

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    External content and other things

    It's a nice looking box with some great specifications. I'm surprised no-one has asked this and that it's not mentioned (or I didn't find it) but...

    - Can the VUDU play external content - say from my PC such as my own music, picture or movies?

    - Any plans for Wifi? I think consumers have enough wires in that area of the house already without needing a separate power supply for the router/wifi bridge and associated network cable that go with it. Thats why the Wii, 360 and PS3 all have Wifi either built-in or as an integratable add-on.

    - Is it a closed system tied exclusively to your service?

    - If it is a walled garden why do consumers have to buy the boxes, shouldn't they be able to rent the box? After all you have to factor the price of the box, non-portability of the bought movies into your total cost for buying a movie.

    - When somone buys the movie does the movie stay on their account so they can download it again (lets say the box needs a hard reset or has a problem with the HDD)?

    - Looking at the site (lovely design) it appears that movies can be bought for $19.99 or something like that compared to about $24.99 for the full physical hd dvd or $14.99 for the sd dvd - I compared Syriana - unfairly since I'm sure your version will be cheaper by launch. Will VuDu provide any form of price guarantees for the movies that can be bought through their service? Especially given (a) the lack of physical product that can be sold on, given to people or played anywhere a dvd is (a smart consumer could buy 5 decent progressive scan SD dvd players for your retail price) (b) You can only play content on your system bought through you (I assume)

    The Crunchgear review doesn't to answer any of these questions but then I guess some sites don't really have to pay for the unit or the price of the downloads or think about the medium/long term issues with ownership - short term is of course irrelevant since for that you should just rent I guess.

    CNET comes close by saying its 'affordable' but they didn't ask these questions either and, in your court, re: the Blockbuster/Netflix reference 75000 movies doesn't mean anything if you're only really interested in 5000 of them.

    On the movie side I think you have a chance to get away from the 'more is better' mentality by going for the incredibly obvious 'better is better' that the cable operations haven't seemed to figure out channel wise.

    And to that end my last question is, will you be implementing any collaborative filtering stuff so a consumer can rate movies and have the aggregated results of system wide ratings contribute towards suggestions for their future rentals/purchases? Or better yet import ratings from other semi-open online systems such as imdb?

    ~ Steph

    #2
    Re: External content and other things

    A lot of good questions with some good and not so good answers! I'll try to do my best to provide further clarification.

    I believe that this first release is only the beginning of the capabilities of this box. Some of the things that you ask are certainly within the technical capabilities. It's more of an issue of waiting until you have every possible option and capability in the box and missing the market or focusing on one aspect of the boxes capability, refining that and making it do that really well. Then when that is done and in the market, add the other desired releases and continue to delight customers. Vudu has picked the second strategy and I think it will work well.

    Please understand that most of what I say is an educated guess as a user of the system. Nothing I speculate on here should be taken as an official position or promise of features from Vudu labs.

    Now, specifically:

    Originally posted by skoenig View Post
    I
    - Can the VUDU play external content - say from my PC such as my own music, picture or movies?
    At this point, no. But this does not mean that it will not do so in the future. The box has the capability and if I were to bet on future additions, I would bet that at some point streaming your content would be something the box will be able to do.

    - Any plans for Wifi? I think consumers have enough wires in that area of the house already without needing a separate power supply for the router/wifi bridge and associated network cable that go with it. Thats why the Wii, 360 and PS3 all have Wifi either built-in or as an integratable add-on.
    WiFi is a "hot" thing and everybody wants it. But it can be problematic when streaming video. The 802.11n standard certainly helps with some of the speed related issues, and given that the Vudu uses pretty much a maximum of 2 to 3 Mb/sec, most WiFi connections would work fairly well. But it does add another layer of cost and complexity to the box. It is possible a future hardware release will provide Wi-Fi but at this point it's a guess. My personal feeling is that video streaming is best done over a wired connection. Running e-net may not be easy for a lot of people. There are a number of very good power line products by Netgear or SlingMedia that can give you the connectivity you need w/o resorting to WiFi.

    - Is it a closed system tied exclusively to your service?
    Yes. While it may be possible at a future date to stream your own personal content, I do not see any chance of Vudu opening their system to work with that of competitors. It would not make sense from a business standpoint.

    - If it is a walled garden why do consumers have to buy the boxes, shouldn't they be able to rent the box? After all you have to factor the price of the box, non-portability of the bought movies into your total cost for buying a movie.
    IMHO, I would rather purchase than rent. You bring up a good point. While $400 is steep for most people to buy a captive VOD box, there's some pretty impressive hardware in there. Rental fees will eventually exceed the cost of the box. And if you have purchased any content what then? You are stuck with having to always rent the box. I agree that the portability factor is an issue. However, that is not the decision of Vudu. That is a limitation imposed by the studios at this time. It may change in the future as the service takes off. I would also expect the boxes to drop in price over time as all technology products do. I have paid $400 for VCRs in my life time....

    Also, the box does not need the internet connection to make it work. If you have purchased or rented content and you want to take your box to a friend's house to watch a movie - you can do that. The power jack on the back is 12 V. So you could even take it with you on a trip and hook it up the the video entertainment system in your car (if you have that) or in a hotel room.

    - When somone buys the movie does the movie stay on their account so they can download it again (lets say the box needs a hard reset or has a problem with the HDD)?
    I don't know all the final details of how it will be worked out, but from what I know Vudu will have some sort of purchase protection agreement. I am not sure if it will be something extra that will need to be paid for or if it will be included in the service. This purchase protection will ensure that any purchased or actively rented content will be able to be re-downloaded if the hard drive crashes and goes bad.

    The company is extremely sensitive to the needs and desires of consumers and so they definitely want to make sure no one has a huge library and then they loose it all. Let's face it - hard drives do go bad eventually...

    - Looking at the site (lovely design) it appears that movies can be bought for $19.99 or something like that compared to about $24.99 for the full physical hd dvd or $14.99 for the sd dvd - I compared Syriana - unfairly since I'm sure your version will be cheaper by launch. Will VuDu provide any form of price guarantees for the movies that can be bought through their service? Especially given (a) the lack of physical product that can be sold on, given to people or played anywhere a dvd is (a smart consumer could buy 5 decent progressive scan SD dvd players for your retail price) (b) You can only play content on your system bought through you (I assume)
    Unfortunately, pricing and pricing policies are determined by the studios who license the content. It may be more flexible in the future. I have asked that if a movie is purchased that the user be mailed a physical DVD. As of now, I know that this is not in the plan. Additionally, some movies can only be rented and some can only be purchased. Again, this is not the decision of Vudu but is dictated by the movie studios.

    Keep in mind that the studios are paranoid about piracy and are generally skeptical of any new technology. Look how dominant a player Apple is in the digital media world and they only have a couple studios selling movies on their iTunes store and they've been doing this for 2 years now. Yet Vudu has been able to get contracts with every single major studio and many indie studios. So they've executed an amazing coup de-tat that so far no one else has been able to do.


    CNET comes close by saying its 'affordable' but they didn't ask these questions either and, in your court, re: the Blockbuster/Netflix reference 75000 movies doesn't mean anything if you're only really interested in 5000 of them.
    The amount of content on the box is simply amazing. I can find movies all the time that I've never seen or find interesting. The 5000 figure is only the beginning...I would expect that to grow over time. This thing is really in its infancy and the capabilities of the Vudu absolutely blow CATV VOD out of the water. There is no other internet box out there that gives you instant viewing of content.

    And to that end my last question is, will you be implementing any collaborative filtering stuff so a consumer can rate movies and have the aggregated results of system wide ratings contribute towards suggestions for their future rentals/purchases? Or better yet import ratings from other semi-open online systems such as imdb?
    The box presently uses IMDB to obtain movie information and ratings. At the present time there is no user ability to rate, but I would guess that will be a feature coming in the future. There is a VuDu's Top Rated section that I believe is made up of the most commonly rented or purchased movies. And there is also a "staff picks" section of movies preferred by the staff at Vudu. I would expect a lot of this capability to be added eventually.

    The bottom line is that I think if you have the financial wherewithal to purchase a $400 piece of entertainment equipment that it is well worth the investment to do so. The fact that you don't have to run out to the video store and stand in line or wait in the mail for videos is just huge. What the Vudu box does now, it does VERY well and I would expect it to just get better and better and better.

    Thanks for the questions. I hope I have answered them to your satisfaction. If you need further clarification please respond back and I or someone else will try to answer further.

    Jon

    Comment


      #3
      Re: External content and other things

      Lot's of good questions. Understand, I'm not a Vudu employee, just an experienced Vudu user, but I'll do my best to answer them....

      Originally posted by skoenig View Post
      It's a nice looking box with some great specifications. I'm surprised no-one has asked this and that it's not mentioned (or I didn't find it) but...

      - Can the VUDU play external content - say from my PC such as my own music, picture or movies?
      At this time no playback of external content is supported. Not to say it isn't possible in the future, as the hardware is certainly robust enough.

      - Any plans for Wifi? I think consumers have enough wires in that area of the house already without needing a separate power supply for the router/wifi bridge and associated network cable that go with it. Thats why the Wii, 360 and PS3 all have Wifi either built-in or as an integratable add-on.
      Version 1 of the Vudu Set Top Box does not have integrated Wifi. The box is compatible with most wifi bridges amd gaming adapters (Vudu will publish a list of "known to work well" adapters elsewhere). Integrated Wifi could be included with future versions of the Vudu family.


      - Is it a closed system tied exclusively to your service?
      At this time it should be considered a closed system with one purpose in mind - delivering the widest range of quality movies instantly.


      - If it is a walled garden why do consumers have to buy the boxes, shouldn't they be able to rent the box? After all you have to factor the price of the box, non-portability of the bought movies into your total cost for buying a movie.
      We could go on for hours about the elasticity of price and the various supply/demand factors that went into the Vudu pricing model. Unfortunatley, too many of these marketing details fall in the category of "Vudu Confidential" information that won't be published in a public forum. Certainly there will be a few consumers who don't appreciate the value of the service (time saving and convenience). We'll just have to let the market decide whether or not Vudu management has properly judged the value that enough discriminating viewers will put on their time.

      - When somone buys the movie does the movie stay on their account so they can download it again (lets say the box needs a hard reset or has a problem with the HDD)?
      Purchased movies stay on the hard drive and are also tied to the customer account records. Rental movies fall off the hard drive over time. You can unplug your box from the internet and take it anywhere (neighbors house, your condo on the beach, Bart's tree house) and watch the downloaded content. In the event of a failure the customer account records can be used to recover any lost movies. Also I have heard theat there are plans in place for enabling backup to alternate storage devices and media. They're still working on those details, so be sure to keep checking our websites to find out if/when such features have been enabled.


      - Looking at the site (lovely design) it appears that movies can be bought for $19.99 or something like that compared to about $24.99 for the full physical hd dvd or $14.99 for the sd dvd - I compared Syriana - unfairly since I'm sure your version will be cheaper by launch. Will VuDu provide any form of price guarantees for the movies that can be bought through their service? Especially given (a) the lack of physical product that can be sold on, given to people or played anywhere a dvd is (a smart consumer could buy 5 decent progressive scan SD dvd players for your retail price) (b) You can only play content on your system bought through you (I assume)
      Back to the fun world of economics and pricing Each movie available for purchase will be offered at a price that Vudu believes will be competitive and appealing to the potential consumer. The open market will decide if they are right or wrong.


      The Crunchgear review doesn't to answer any of these questions but then I guess some sites don't really have to pay for the unit or the price of the downloads or think about the medium/long term issues with ownership - short term is of course irrelevant since for that you should just rent I guess.

      CNET comes close by saying its 'affordable' but they didn't ask these questions either and, in your court, re: the Blockbuster/Netflix reference 75000 movies doesn't mean anything if you're only really interested in 5000 of them.

      On the movie side I think you have a chance to get away from the 'more is better' mentality by going for the incredibly obvious 'better is better' that the cable operations haven't seemed to figure out channel wise.

      And to that end my last question is, will you be implementing any collaborative filtering stuff so a consumer can rate movies and have the aggregated results of system wide ratings contribute towards suggestions for their future rentals/purchases? Or better yet import ratings from other semi-open online systems such as imdb?

      ~ Steph
      You'll be glad to know that each movie in the Vudu catalog has the IMDB "star" ratings listed in the details.
      Last edited by Nded; 09-08-2007, 01:13 PM.

      Comment


        #4
        Re: External content and other things

        Jon and Ed,

        I appreicate both your replies and it goes along way to explaining the issues. As you say the open market will ultimate determine if the studio's are correct on pricing (if I'm reading this right) and the service model they've permitted you to operate.

        I see vudu as another step towards unchaining digital content from physical restraints and the traditional retail sales model (yet another Tower Records died near here recently). And I hope in one of your future iterations (or even this one) it's the final step towards ubiquitous legal digital movie content.

        I certainly hope the studios will give vudu the leeway to respond dynamically to the realities of the open market place and consumer view of content, ownership and value given your service's big selling points of instant availability, good choice, convienient packaging and delivery.

        I've always found it odd that both the music and movie machines fear piracy so much and go to extraordinary length to make it difficult for legitimate owners to use their content freely without stopping to think why the piracy exists and trying to address some of the more obvious ones.

        I think it's true to say that iTunes (and others) have shown that digital pricing models for digital media work. My view is the digital world works entirely off the force of numbers - against a backdrop of a wealth of availability from multiple sources (legal or not for some people) only clicks away.

        I think vudu brings together many of those pieces in a well packaged consumer electronic device that seems to require little or no technical knowledge (bar the myriad of connection options).

        Good luck guys.

        I'll keep my eye on you and who knows, maybe my better half will let me have one or my blog partners will get one for me.

        ~ Steph

        ps. Coupleof minor buglets in the forum... it said I got banned permanently when I signed up, it would be great to enable the vbulletin edit option you can set it to allow member post editing for a few minutes after the post is done - I know you can preview but there's always the after thought or spelling error that makes it through - for me especially - that you really wish you could just edit.

        Comment


          #5
          Re: External content and other things

          Steph,

          We'll look into the forum issues. Not sure how much we as moderators can do but we'll check it and talk to the site admins. Thanks for the feedback. It's brand new and good to know these things.

          Jon

          Comment


            #6
            Re: External content and other things

            In the (older) version of vBulletin I administer elsewhere, the post editing setting is only available to the admin, not the moderators, so hopefully RichT or another VUDU staffer can look into changing it for us. And incidentally, yes, I agree, editing should be allowed for at least 5-10 minutes, if not indefinitely.

            So the ban notice only showed up once? That's odd. A new forum like this shouldn't even have any banned IPs. (You don't post from Redmond, do you? )

            Comment


              #7
              Re: External content and other things

              Wow, someone should jump on this immediately... Portable Movie Storage and Player that is just plug and play? Feel free to steal this idea, someone should design a line of cases to take your vudu box with you... I think this could be a great selling point

              Purchased movies stay on the hard drive and are also tied to the customer account records. Rental movies fall off the hard drive over time. You can unplug your box from the internet and take it anywhere (neighbors house, your condo on the beach, Bart's tree house) and watch the downloaded content. In the event of a failure the customer account records can be used to recover any lost movies. Also I have heard theat there are plans in place for enabling backup to alternate storage devices and media. They're still working on those details, so be sure to keep checking our websites to find out if/when such features have been enabled.
              --------------
              Adam Hirsch
              www.adamahirsch.com
              www.thefattytalks.com

              Comment


                #8
                Re: External content and other things

                I would say "Transportable" vs. "Portable"....the dimensions are a bit big for a "Portable"....

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: External content and other things

                  In the Introduction Video they state that when a movie comes to DVD (from any of the affiliate studios, which is most of them), it will be available on Vudu. I cancelled my Netflix account for this alone, I'm tired of the "Long Wait" for something that just came out. I want to watch it within at least 2 weeks and more realistically NOW. This I will be able to do with Vudu, the stress reduction times a year is more than worth $400 for me. Plus the box is portable (or Transportable...). So download the newest movies, bring it to friends and give them an option of movies to watch and BAM!

                  The bottom line is that I think if you have the financial wherewithal to purchase a $400 piece of entertainment equipment that it is well worth the investment to do so. The fact that you don't have to run out to the video store and stand in line or wait in the mail for videos is just huge. What the Vudu box does now, it does VERY well and I would expect it to just get better and better and better.
                  Last edited by ahirsch; 09-12-2007, 08:07 PM. Reason: RonV's previous message
                  --------------
                  Adam Hirsch
                  www.adamahirsch.com
                  www.thefattytalks.com

                  Comment

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