When I first met with LaLa.com, CEO Bill Nguyen spoke about the importance of selection at online CD stores such as Amazon.com (which Apple had claimed during last September that the iTunes store was on the verge of passing). A recent meeting with LaLa’s John Kuch again touched on that theme. Apple’s selection in music, however, is not as rich as its selection in movies, and that’s the target of suddenly high-profile Vudu. After all, if instant access to a limited selection of movies had been so compelling, MovieBeam would have likely found a greater audience, and it was cheaper than the $300 being bandied about for its box, particularly after discounts. (I “overpaid” for mine at about $60 as I recall.)
So, armed with content from all of the majors save for Sony Pictures Entertainment, which may be facing corporate pressure to distribute to the PS3 (or not to further other strategic corporate interests), selection will likely be the trump card that Vudu plays as other solutions seem like they could probably circumvent any IP that the company may have with its in-house peer-to-peer content delivery network. Interestingly enough, the Times’ story quotes Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, the nearly 7 million members of which have to be considered low-hanging fruit for Vudu.
When I wrote about Apple TV versus TiVo and versus cable/satellite, I pegged programming depth and value as two areas where the digital media adapter was far behind. Vudu probably falls short too for now, but that could change fast if the company is really serious about competing with DVD and goes after the already aired TV show market. I’ll definitely have more to say about Vudu soon.