Perhaps Apple was right to ignore UltraViolet
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Perhaps Apple was right to ignore UltraViolet

In the past, I've felt that Apple should consider supporting UltraViolet. However, now I'm now so sure since the roll-out of the technology seems to have been flubbed.

UltraViolet is a cloud-based movie storage solution that the industry is betting (or at least hoping) will convince consumers to buy movies instead of renting them. How? The "digital locker" solution purportedly keeps copies of films you've bought on remote servers for viewing any time on various devices. Starting this month, consumers can buy the first film discs offered with UltraViolet.

Sounds like a good idea, but so far it's not off to a great start. According to the "Associated Press" (http://macte.ch/SRxuP), when the studio introduced its first movies on the new "UltraViolet" format in October, consumers were led to believe they could buy a DVD or Blu-ray, register their ownership of the movie on the UltraViolet website and then receive— at no extra cost — a digital version that could play on their computer, tablet or mobile phone. However, UltraViolet didn't work as advertised, the article says.

What went wrong? According to the "AP":

° Some users were confused because the process required them to register on the UltraViolet website as well as on another website called Flixster, a movie site owned by Warner Bros.

° Users had to install special software before they could view movies on their computers.

° UltraViolet didn't work as advertised for owners of Apple's iPhones and iPads.

The article says that, among thousands of posts about UltraViolet on social-media sites in the weeks following the Oct. 11 launch, only 3% of comments were positive, according to Fizziology, a company that tracks buzz related to Hollywood movie releases. Some 17% were negative and the rest were neutral. That's on par with the worst product receptions the firm has ever seen.

The message from Warner Bros. "seems to be as complicated as the sign-up process. Both would benefit from simplification," says Beth Monaghan, co-founder of public relations firm InkHouse. "If we've learned anything from Apple, it's that a simple message wins almost every time."

UltraViolet is backed by Warner Bros. and four other major studios. Walt Disney, the only major film studio not backing UltraViolet. Apple also hasn't announced support for UltraViolet. There's speculation that Apple and Disney are working on a competition technology called KeyChest.

With Keychest, no physical possession or media is to be involved. The media will live in the cloud and be available on-demand in a way similar to the way Google Docs are accessed. Users would simply enter their unique key and begin streaming their media.

"The easiest way to explain [Keyestl] is with an example and the most obvious to us is iTunes and Comcast," says engadget (http://macte.ch/yM361). "Both companies offer video on demand and use their own DRM to prevent copying. If both participated in KeyChest -- this isn't studio based -- and we bought a movie on iTunes, the next time we hit up Comcast VOD we'd be able to watch the same movie without paying again. The genius of the idea is how simple it is, basically the participants report your purchases to the KeyChest and query it to see what else you bought."

Sounds like Keychest and Apple might make a good fit, especially since UltraViolet is off to a rocky start. And if Disney is no longer interested in Keychest (there are reports it's moved on to something called Disney All Access), Apple may be furthering the technology. Or it may come out with its own version of the technology -- one that will compete with UltraViolet, as well -- that will tie in with the ginormous data center it's built in North Carolina.

-- Dennis Sellers

 

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