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Amazon is the first retailer to sign a deal to offer movies in the new UltraViolet file-sharing format.Amazon revealed the news at a panel at CES on Tuesday, reports USA Today.
UltraViolet lets people purchase a digital copy of a movie from any retailer, store it in a central online account (called a locker) and then watch it on a variety of devices like TVs, iPads, the Kindle Fire and so on.
Hollywood hopes that it will encourage movie lovers to keep buying films instead of merely renting them.
UltraViolet launched in October and it’s been uphill for the format ever since. It’s not supported by many devices and hasn’t been offered by any retailers.
UltraViolet’s success rests on digital retailers agreeing to use it. But retailers have had little incentive to agree. Amazon and Apple have their own lockers where their customers store their movies.
On top of that, critics have said it’s too hard to use. For instance, to take advantage of the multiple device streaming feature on an iPad, people had to create two new online accounts, reports USA Today.
UltraViolet was created by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem made up of the big movie studios. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video are all supporters of UltraViolet.
Some retailers have given it lip service, too. For instance, Best Buy (which operates the CinemaNow website) and Wal-Mart Stores (and its Vudu.com site), are members of the UltraViolet consortium. But neither have begun to use it.
The Hollywood studios blamed movie retailers for the lack of interest in UltraViolet so far, although a representative from the consortium admitted to USA Today that UltraViolet itself also needs fixing.
No one knows exactly how much support Amazon will really throw behind UltraViolet. But the fact that it’s willing to try it could be a game changer.
The consortium promises that devices that support UltraViolet will be plentiful by the 2012 holiday season, reports BusinessWeek.