While most people are still making the adjustment to blu-ray players and streaming video services such as Netflix, Hollywood is already working on what may the next generation of delivering their content to consumers.
The new system is called UltraViolet, a digital cloud service that allows consumers to purchase content in the form of a movie or television show, store it online and access it through any number of enabled devices including smart phones, tablets, laptops, blu-ray players and televisions. In essence, UltraViolet appears to combine aspects of buying DVDs or blu-ray discs with the flexibility of streaming by allowing users to build their own custom libraries that they can then access with the device or devices of their choice.
The system has been in development since 2008 and now DECE, the consortium of content providers and technology manufacturers who have come together to create it, have announced that it is ready for roll out later this year. Consumers will start seeing Ultra-Violet compatible discs on store shelves at some in the fall. Around that same time, apps will become available to allow consumers to play their cloud-based content on their PCs, game consoles and smart phones early next year should see the release of the first electronic devices with UltraViolet capability built in.
Everyone involved in the development of UltraViolet is hoping that the system will entice consumers back to buying their media rather than renting from various outlets. The studios have seen a slump in DVD and blu-ray revenue in recent years thanks to the rise of services like Netflix and Redbox. Last year the market plummeted some 44% from 2009’s $7.97 billion to $4.47 billion as video-on-demand and subscription services became more popular with consumers. Although blu-ray player sales have increased by 16% from 2009 to 2010, it hasn’t been big enough to replace the lost DVD revenue.
Studios can make up to $15 for each movie sold, as opposed to only a few dollars for each film rented.
So far, the only two major players who have not signed on to be part of UltraViolet are Disney and Apple. Disney declined to participate in UltraViolet’s development as they were working on their own online digital locker system.
Apple’s reluctance to join may be the one stumbling block to UltraViolet’s ultimate success, as they control nearly 60% of the download market through their iTunes store.
Another major stumbling block to UltraViolet’s might be the fact that they are beginning the technology roll out right at the heart of the holiday shopping season with some analysts speculating that might not be the best time to try and educate consumers about new technology.
Consumers may also balk at the idea of not physically owning their media. And given the recent hacking of Sony’s Playstation Network, the DECE consortium is going to have to go a long way to prove that people’s individual storage lockers are secure.
Personally, I’m not sure I would make much use of UltraViolet as I don’t really enjoy the idea of watching movies squashed onto the small screens of portable devices. But I can see where the allure of such a system is for all those who have had a hand in developing it. We’ll see if the public will find it alluring as well.
Via The Wrap.