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Is That the Vudu Magic?

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Vudu, a two year old Santa Clara, Calif.-based start-up has launched a new kind of set-top box that will allow you to download and watch movies, and promises a better experience than, say, the Comcast video on demand. It utilizes P2P technology and broadband to offer an experience that could be dubbed “instant NetFlix.”

The company was started by Tony Miranz, a former VP at Openwave, a wireless software company in 2004, and initially went by the name Vvond, and later changed it to Marquee before switching to Vudu. It has raised about $21 million from Graylock Ventures and Benchmark Capital.

According to Gizmodo

The box is about the size of a hardcover book and delivers video streamed in MPEG-4, which is upscaled to HD. It has HDMI, composite, and S-Video ports. Vudu goes online via an ethernet cable, and the media stream is managed through a load-sharing distributed network, which should guarantee instant access to the movies without stutters.

The New York Times, which devoted considerable amount of ink to the company, says Hollywood studios (with the exception of Sony Pictures) are jazzed by the idea of a device like Vudu.

“The first time I ever saw TiVo was an a-ha moment, and this was the same thing,” says Jim Wuthrich, a senior executive with Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group. “It looks fairly sexy and inviting. This is going to pull people in.”

While Hollywood’s enthusiasm for new technologies like Vudu is laudable, it still remains to be seen before consumers will pony up for yet another dedicated device to watch movies.

Dave Zatz sums it up nicely when he writes:

With the proliferation of cable and satellite VOD/PPV plus Xbox 360 and TiVo now offering movie rentals (and purchases), I just can’t see folks ponying up for a dedicated movie rental box… My Moviebeam has been unplugged for months and Akimbo is moving into PC downloads while their CEO is being replaced.

What do you think?

18 Responses to “Is That the Vudu Magic?”

  1. [correction] Oops — is some guy who does some interesting stuff(damn he gets lots of free traffic today from you guys!), but the guys you are talking about are

  2. Companies like Vividas (Iain Molland, CEO) are already delivering live streaming video (Fox) and movies (e.g. Ophrah Winfrey’s movie “The Secret”) to the PC. You can watch a full length movie instantly of placing the order. Vividas requires an ActiveX application.

    With the ability to download without a device, I think it is going to be tough to have another TiVo type device at the customer’s premises. A better approach would be to partner with TiVo and download into TiVo. The market for the device is already developed.

  3. “We are rewriting economics” – CEO from the NYT piece.

    I wish they’d leave the ridiculous prognostication to others and just concentrate on selling their box… and they really do need to concentrate on selling it. Like others have said, why spend $300 and add another box to the pile by the tv in order to be able to rent more stuff? And you want the user to pay to download and then use their upload capacity to serve your movies to others…?

    Plus, you can bet that the drm on this will be crippling (like buy it and watch in 24 hours), none of this unlimited subscription holy grail which everyone wants and no one will ever offer…

  4. Steve Bryant

    Price is a problem. I’m not going to pay $300 for the privilege of renting anything. The technology needs to be licensed into an existing box.