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Complaints Are Short-Sighted Regarding UltraViolet

24 Jan, 2012 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Maybe it’s human nature to complain, to find fault with new products and technologies. But the criticism that has been leveled at UltraViolet — the revolutionary “digital locker,” backed by five of the six major studios, that lets consumers buy content once and then access it whenever and wherever they like, on a wide array of devices — strikes me as petty and nitpicky.

Disney’s not onboard. You have to register on two websites and download new software. UltraViolet isn’t compatible with the iTunes application. Studios are slow to release content. Retailers are reluctant to jump in.

Man, oh man. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. Growing pains are expected; heck, it took Walmart two years to even begin carrying DVD, the biggest tech success story along with Apple’s iPod, iPhone and iPad.

You have to look beyond the challenges and obstacles that are inherent to any new product launch — none of which are insurmountable, by the way — and, like DVD, look at both the motivation behind the product and what benefits it brings to the consumer.

In DVD’s case, the motivation was to get people to buy movies rather than rent them and thus increase the studios’ take. The benefits to the consumer included the convenience of picking up movies at Walmart or Costco, at an affordable price, and never having to return them, as well as owning these movies forever, on an archival format with no moving parts, like the clunky videocassette.

The motivation behind UltraViolet is very, very similar: more money for the studios, and a convenience for the consumer.

Studios pump up Blu-ray Disc sales because all of a sudden that disc is a lot more than something you stick in your Blu-ray player and watch on your home theater. In effect, you can lift that content off the disc and do with it what you like. Fall asleep during the last half of The Hangover Part II? No problem, watch the rest on your notebook on the plane — or your computer at work while the boss thinks you’re working on budgets. That increases the value proposition behind buying a Blu-ray Disc, which should eat into rentals.

Before, when Joe Consumer had to shell out $15 or $20 to buy a disc he can only watch on his home theater, he was cautious and selective. But opening up all those viewing options — and, wink, wink, the potential to share — is quite an incentive, no matter how tightfisted Joe might be.

So let’s get past the expected bumps and see UltraViolet for what it really is: A revolutionary way to bring entertainment to the consumer, offering the consumer the ultimate in flexibility and convenience without watching some third party like Netflix or Redbox walk away with the lion’s share of the dough.

This thing’s going to be big — really, really big.

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About the Author: Thomas K. Arnold

Thomas K. Arnold

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