by Carlo Longino

Yet Another Company Wants To Sell You An Expensive Box To Download Movies

from the stop-me-if-you've-heard-this-one-before dept

Over the weekend, the New York Times published a glowing story about Vudu, a new startup that's developing a set-top box for downloading movies. Yes, this is a plan you've heard before, from the spectacularly failed, Disney-backed Moviebeam to more recent efforts by Akimbo, along with the continued minimal impact of PC-based movie download sites. As Peter Rojas points out on Engadget, the Times story is "long on overblown claims and hyperbole and short on realistic analysis of how resistant consumers have been to paying to download movies over the internet". Vudu has signed up most of the major studios to supply content and says it's got technology that will make movies play immediately, without any waits or stutters. That's great and all, but when consumers have shown so little interest in these types of services before, it's hard to see things changing -- particularly when Vudu wants to make them buy a $300 single-purpose box, then pay per-movie charges on top of that -- in spite of the NYT's puff piece.

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  • identicon
    Dam, 1 May 2007 @ 4:57am

    Won't Sell Me One

    Years ago, when cable was being installed in millions of home, some people claimed it was simply another way to make money on what was then free. Those were short-sighted comments, because cable promised hundreds of choices. To a greater or lesser extent, that became true. The diversity of content on cable and satellite services makes paying for them worthwhile, in my opinion.

    Movies, on the other hand, are made primarily by a handful of studios and about 95% is crap. Sure, there are the indie film studios out there, but being an indie doesn't guarantee great stuff.

    As long as there is physical media which a consumer can rent for short money is available, download services won't go anywhere. Broadband is still not fast enough for real quality download speeds, so huge amounts of data like movies will either be compressed even more or will provide a miserable viewing experience.

    As long as someone uninformed has money to lose, these things will continue to appear on the market, and the market can be cruel.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kyles Mom, 1 May 2007 @ 5:12am

    Who pays for thier movies? Wait... can you use it to get girls gone wild? If sooooo I am iN!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    UniBoy, 1 May 2007 @ 5:28am

    Portability and versatility

    Movie downloads are not just about the process of downloading a movie and watching it. Having movies in a digital (vice physical) form gives you added flexibility. Flexibility on who can produce it. Flexibility on how you store it. Flexibility on how and where and when you watch it. And, of course, the potential to remix.

    These are the value adds that the vendors need to be embracing. It's what made digital music happen, and it is doing the same for video.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2007 @ 5:32am

    you remind me of the girl
    what girl?
    The girl with the power.
    What power?
    The power of vudu.
    Who do?
    You do?
    You do, I do what?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Greg, 1 May 2007 @ 6:17am

    I wouldn't mind paying $300 for a movie-downloading box, as long as the per-movie cost is low, and they aren't DRMed to hell and back.

    Of course, I'm not going to get either of those things from this service, in all likelyhood. Same price as a DVD, but far less useful? Sign me right up!

    Also, the page design changed between the last article and this one. I like the new design, but the header/navigation is all kinds of messed up in my browser (FireFox 2, Win XP).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ajax 4Hire, 1 May 2007 @ 6:29am

      Re: I wouldn't mind paying $300

      !?!?!?! Hello! wake up.
      You just said you would pay $300 for the priviledge to rent movies from Blockbuster, Netflix, blah, blah, blah.

      You are asleep or have lost conscienceness if you would rather 'buy' a cablebox than have one given to you by the cable company.

      You forget that someone must supply you with a VERY high-speed internet connection to get these movies. Cost on top of cost.

      You must be poor or soon to be poor if you are throwing money around like that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Greg, 1 May 2007 @ 9:33am

        Re: Re: I wouldn't mind paying $300

        I'd pay $300 to avoid having to find a Blockbuster, wait for NetFlix, or worry about returning things, yeah.

        I'd also like to "buy" one instead of "have one given to [me] by the cable company", because that way I can cancel the cable contract.

        30mbit FiOS is probably fast enough, and it's not that expensive.

        I'm not throwing money around, I'm canceling a $60/month digital cable bill and a $10 NetFlix bill, and throwing down $300 up front.

        Like I said, I wouldn't mind buying it if the movies are cheap and not DRMed. Done right, this is an Apple TV, without iTunes. I just don't think it will be done anywhere close to right.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, 1 May 2007 @ 6:23am

    I cannot see Vudu effectively competing

    with the large Cable Operators: Time-Warner, Comcast, etc.

    These folks 'give' you a cable box that is now capable of movie download to a HardDisk as well as the Tivo functions.

    In addition, the CableNetwork download is much faster than a CableModem download because you can dedicate a entire downstream channel (45Mbps vs 6Mbps CableModem).

    There is no way the MSOs (Multi-System Operators aka Cable Companies) will let something like Vudo survive, much less cut into their potential profits.

    Not even if Vudu is backed by Microsoft.

    The Cable Companies own the road, the network to your house.
    They control the road and the traffic to your house.

    Unless you can switch to a Phone Company network distributor, you are stuck with the Cable Company.

    Again, there is 0% chance Vudu will make it on their own.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Overcast, 1 May 2007 @ 6:45am

    This beats 'on-demand'.... how?

    I might pay that if the selection is HUGE and they have a VERY low monthly fee - and yes, with others... DRM free.

    I can't see paying $300 for a box that then charges me for movies, how would this beat Netflix?

    Sure, umm, it's quick, but for $300.00 I can have some patience.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Wyatt, 1 May 2007 @ 7:24am

    Keep in mind...

    Keep in mind that nothing is said about if you can move the movies from the box to say a DVD or HD on a PC. There is a lot of potential to have a limited POS box that only downloads and plays the movies. Seems that the movie maker losers would only allow this if they knew the content was protected. DRM doesn’t work, so the only way to do it is to control the file. If anyone buys into this idea it’s because they know nothing about tech stuff. All anyone needs to do is buy a cheap PC and connect it to your TV! You can browse the internet and even download MOVIES!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, 1 May 2007 @ 8:00am

    Video OnDemand, Pay-per-View, already there...

    exactly, Cable operators already offer Video-On-Demand which is actually faster than a movie download.

    The Movie is held on the HardDrive, you can watch it again.

    There is NO way that the CableOperators are going to loose this lucrative money-making business.

    The only advantage that Vudu will create is lower cost VideoOnDemand for customers. Vudu still goes out of business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    noflachik, 1 May 2007 @ 10:09am


    offers instant downloads that you can watch on your PC or TV and it doesn't count against the mailers. Click on the Watch Now tab.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    XBOX MAN, 1 May 2007 @ 10:31am

    XBOX360 is that box

    I download HD movies from xbox live already. That box already exists and is in many homes right now. Plus it plays games and allows me to stream music and video from my computer ( although not as well as the original with xbmc).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chronno S. Trigger, 1 May 2007 @ 12:25pm

      Re: XBOX360 is that box

      Yeah, I have both those boxes. I don't pay for any video downloads but what they give away free is good. It also takes a long time to download.

      Look up a program called TVersity. I use it to stream audio to my Xbox360 and Wii. It works with video if your computer is powerful enough to do the live conversion.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    SBBrian805, 1 May 2007 @ 10:48am

    Waste of time and money on Vudo’s behalf…

    Waste of time and money on Vudo’s behalf… They’ll never get off the ground! The people at Vudo need to consult with people that are somewhat computer savvy, because by the looks of this crack-pot get rich quick scheme, they're not as computer savvy as the people that will be buying their product.

    Their $300 box is nothing less than a Striped-Down/Basic PC (similar to an Apple TV set-top box); which, is built for the sole purpose to stream and display movies on my HD/SD (Standard Definition) display. A majority of us are too smart to waste $300 on useless hardware that give us view once movies with picture quality less than DVD, and already have some sort of PC that has better system specs than an Apple TV set-top box. Also, most HD displays have some sort of VGA or DVI input we can use to connect to our current PC/Laptop. And for those that have a SD display save your money and buy a HD display with VGA in. Or buy an adaptor! It will still cost less than $300 as far as standard video is concerned.

    The people Vudo needs to rethink their business plans. Nice way to get some headlines though. Maybe your penny stock will go up 1 or 2 cents.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Davesem, 1 May 2007 @ 1:05pm

    Unbox and Tivo

    Amazon has launched their Unbox serverice where I can either buy or rent to a PC or Tivo. Now buying any music or movie with ridiculously restrictive DRM is a sucker bet but renting direct to my Tivo is cool. Currently not all their content is available to rent to Tivo but when (or if) they do get a large library of content for rent I will never visit Hollywood Video or Blockbuster again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rick, 1 May 2007 @ 1:06pm

    Am I The Only One?

    Am I the only one that sees the elephant in the room?

    EVEN IF the cable companies let this happen, EVEN IF I could download the purchased movies to my pc to burn to dvd (all the write ups I have seen only talk about renting), they are still missing the boat when it comes to bandwidth.

    When you read up on this, it is a P2P network serving up these movies. I am sorry, If I pay to rent a movie I accept that I will use my bandwidth to download it. BUT (and this is a BIG BUT) I refuse to eat up my bandwidth to send it to some other shmuck.

    If what I am reading is correct, your bandwidth at home would be eaten alive by others wanting to watch the movies you rented.

    VUDU - You really missed the boat here. Just like the studios, you want us to bear the brunt of your money making. I wouldn't purchase one of these bandwidth leaches, nor would I hook one up to my network if it was given to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Smokebreak, 1 May 2007 @ 4:48pm

    Digg This

    At Digg.com they are censoring their stories about HD-DVD. It's all due to the decryption key string that has been available for a week now. I personally am going to use this for my Linux box, much like i use De-Css.

    09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0 - The number string that is causing censorship in blogs (HD-DVD key for Linux use)

    Fight the DRM with information, I just thought that this would be most relevant to this story being you can download hd content to your pc, but only legally buy buying it, not if you already own it and want to transfer it to another medium

    This is the website contact address that sent the cease and desist take down notices to Google..... Have fun with it (DOS-it? :P)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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