Vudu Uses HTML5 to Steam Movies to the iPad

Posted by at 11:06 am on August 10, 2011

Vudu on Wednesday began offering its streaming movie service on the iPad over the web. The strategy uses HTTP Live Streaming to push the movie while adapting the bitrate to match the connection. Video is limited to standard definition when seen on the iPad, but only due to “restrictions by content providers,” Vudu said.

Both rentals and purchases work. Viewers can pay for an HD or HDX version of a movie on the iPad and watch it at the higher quality on another device.

Disney has also specifically excluded its movies from the iPad web page. It’s not clear why. Disney counts Apple CEO Steve Jobs as a board member but hasn’t usually determined its video policy based on the outside executive’s decisions. These movies can still be bought or rented on the iPad, but won’t play.

Android and other platforms should get support in the future, including iPhones, although Vudu hasn’t said when they would be ready.

Vudu explained the decision to go to the web over a native app as a matter of it being more “economically favorable,” according to general manager Ed Lichty. The statement was likely a direct allusion to Apple’s insistence that any in-app purchase has to run through iTunes and take a 30 percent cut. Vudu could have offered its service without the purchase options but would have limited users to watching content they’ve already paid for.

Going to the web also lets Walmart-owned Vudu skip Apple’s approval process and having to wait to take advantage of new features.

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