Just a couple weeks ago, Walmart opened a brand new digital media store for movies powered by Vudu.
And today, Vudu made its way to iPad.
It’s the first movie-streaming service that works within the browser of the iPad. It’s not an App Store download.
This means that Vudu circumvents Apple’s in-app purchasing system entirely. None of Vudu’s profits are shared with Apple.
(In related news, Amazon just this morning announced a Kindle web app because Apple made them take the “Kindle Store” button out of the Kindle App. And apparently, even though it’s a web app, it still works pretty smoothly.)
So what makes Vudu special, besides the fact that it beats Apple at its own game? It’s a streaming service like Netflix, except it doesn’t work on a subscription basis.
You can purchase a movie (for cheaper than DVD counterparts) and watch it on a variety of devices like Vudu-enabled TVs, Blu-Ray players, the Playstation 3, and now the iPad via a very good web app.
Or, you can rent movies for as little as two dollars and only keep them for a day or two. Vudu has a library of over 15,000 titles, including new releases like Source Code and Battle: Los Angeles that won’t be on Netflix for a while.
We got out hands on Vudu for iPad yesterday, and it’s brilliant. It doesn’t feel like a “web app” of yore because it takes full advantage of HTML 5 tech to provide reliable streaming (the movie we watched started almost immediately) and quick purchasing.
And maybe best of all, you can add the Vudu web app to your home screen as a browser bookmark, and it feels just like your Netflix or Hulu Plus app.
Is this a wave of the future? We think it is. HTML 5 gives developers the power to build functional “apps” that can work via the web, and not via a downloadable app.
These web apps don’t function as well as locally stored apps, but they’re getting there. Vudu and Amazon’s new web apps are proof.
Apple is fighting a losing war against developers who want to let people purchase external content (content that’s not hosted by Apple) from within an app. In-app purchases (like extra weapons for a game, or new levels) are hosted on Apple servers–we can understand Apple charging the 30% tariff for that.
But Kindle books? Streaming movies? Those are hosted elsewhere, and Apple will soon realise that it’s compromising the user experience by making people jump through hoops.