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Vudu avoids the Apple tax with iPad mobile site

In its hunt to get on ever-more devices, Vudu (s WMT) is finally making its streaming video-on-demand (VOD) store available on the iPad. But while most streaming video services have launched apps on the tablet, Vudu is coming to market with a mobile web experience, in part so that it doesn’t have to share revenues with Apple. (s AAPL)

Vudu’s recently launched an update to its website which extends availability of its streaming videos to web browsers, as well as connected TVs, Blu-ray players and game consoles. The mobile site for iPad, which is available today, is an extension of that initiative. The iPad site is formatted specifically for the tablet, and allows users to watch movies they’ve already rented or bought wherever they are. The site takes advantage of Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) adaptive bit rate streaming to ensure video quality based on network conditions. However, like the normal website, Vudu streaming is only available in standard definition.

By moving to the mobile web, Vudu can control the customer account across multiple devices, without having to worry about integrating with Apple’s login system. But most importantly, doing so lets Vudu and parent company Walmart avoid sharing revenues with Apple. Vudu GM Edward Lichty admitted that owning the customer relationship through the browser experience would be “economically favorable” to the streaming company.

But Lichty also said that introducing a native app gives Vudu a great level of autonomy over the evolution of the experience. In other words, Vudu isn’t beholden to Apple’s App Store approval process when updating or adding features to the digital storefront on the iPad.

The Vudu iPad site will give viewers access to more than 20,000 titles for rental or purchase. According to Lichty, the site has access to the company’s entire streaming library except for one studio: Disney. (s DIS) That’s not terribly surprising, as the studio has its own cloud-based video service called Disney Movies Online. Disney also has an iPad app which could be used for streaming in the future.

While the iPad is the first tablet to get the Vudu video storefront, other mobile devices are in the works, including Android tablets and phones. And users can connect to the service on their iPhones, although the mobile website isn’t yet optimized for the smaller device.

Vudu has expanded the number of devices that it plays on, especially since being acquired by Walmart last year. Its service is now available on more than 300 connected TVs, Blu-ray players and other devices.

13 Responses to “Vudu avoids the Apple tax with iPad mobile site”

  1. pk22901

    “avoids the Apple tax”

    It’s not about the tax. It’s about HTML 5.

    Jobs wants to incentivize HTML 5 (free vs 30% tax) so that it fully replaces Flash (Adobe is adjusting and will make $$$$ on HTML 5.).

    Jobs leads the industry and this is what it looks like. Pay on my platform or free on HTML5.

    Jobs wins on either (and so does the industry).

    • Ryan Lawler

      Sure, Jobs wants people to adopt HTML5. But I think he’d probably rather get paid that 30 percent. Then again, if companies like Vudu shy away from native apps that just gives iTunes an advantage.

    • Neither one of you make sense. So you think Jobs wants people to adopt HTML5 so they won’t have to make apps? Why would he want that? They make a metric shit ton off of royalties from apps.

      And why does a company shying away from making native apps benefit itunes at all? Again, doesn’t make sense.

  2. PXLated

    So, I’m confused – This isn’t an app as we know them, it’s just a website formatted for mobile, and in this case, specifically the iPad. So there’s nothing to download, you just visit the site in Safari?