We get it. Hollywood absolutely hates how much influence Apple has in the industry. iTunes and those game changing iPads are seriously putting a kink in Hollywood’s plans for digital distribution dominance. Case in point: UltraViolet, a newish program from the major Hollywood companies that was supposed to make it easier for movie lovers to enjoy their films on all of their devices. Turns out the implementation of UltraViolet is so poor that Warner Bros. has decided to give customers the ability to download their latest offering, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, from the iTunes store for free.
Is there a new definition for “dropped ball” that we’re unaware of at this point?
The UltraViolet technology lets consumers stream their films from any device they want, so long as you have legitimately purchased a Blu-ray disc of the film, and have the appropriate code for the services. You then get home, put the code into your UltraViolet application of choice, like Flixster, then immediately have access to your film in the cloud. Neat idea in theory, but it seems like it’s turned out to be a bad idea in practice. Consumers are mighty unpleased with the service. Take for instance this review for UltraViolet from last month:
[quote]This review does not relate to the movie, but it is focused on the ridiculous process to download the digital copy. After creating accounts for both Flixster and Ultraviolet, linking the accounts, enabling WB to view my personal information, the system hangs and doesn’t download the movie. I contacted Ultraviolet first with the issues and error messages. After a day, I was told this is not an Ultraviolet issue, but a Flixster problem. I then contacted Flixster. They responded by sending me to the FAQ. To date, I have not gotten a proper response from Flixster on the error messages. I plan on cancelling both accounts and will NEVER buy another DVD tied to Ultraviolet. This is a complete rip off and WB should be ashamed of this dreadful service. Please do yourself a favor and don’t buy the movie with the digital copy. If you want a digital version, just got to iTunes.[/quote]
This could probably be a warning for cloud technologies on a whole, but in specific, UltraViolet doesn’t exactly seem to be working out very well for a large population of consumers. It seems, at least on the surface, that most of the people who are complaining in comment systems about these UltraViolet enabled films are plenty annoyed that the films can’t be played in iTunes, or used in iOS’s native Movies application. In the most recent snafu, Warner Bros. has decided to give consumers iTunes coupon codes to download the film for free. While it’s a great move from Warner Bros., it certainly doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in UltraViolet moving forward.
Good on Warner Bros. for righting the wrong, but the question remains: why are they promoting a technology that isn’t ready for primetime just yet?
A Brief Rant
Here’s the problem. The studios are pretty much trying to start a new format war, but instead of being on equal footing at the outset of this war there’s already a clear winner. HD-DVD versus Blu-ray is something we watched closely in these parts of the Internet, but the studios are hoping that this new war, UltraViolet versus iTunes, can still be won. It can’t be. I’m not saying that iTunes is here to stay as the defacto leader in this industry, but I am going to say that whatever is going to replace iTunes will have to be so phenomenal that the people who have already invested in the iTunes model, and Apple’s model on a whole, will jump ship to a new platform. Ironically, the DRM that these same studios are forcing down everyone’s throat is the major hurdle in leaving behind iTunes and moving to the new UltraViolet format that they’re pushing. If you’ve purchased a film on iTunes, you cannot stream it through UltraViolet. Is that a gunshot I hear, and a bullet in a foot that I see? It kind of looks like it, doesn’t it?
If the studios want people to use Flixster on their iPads and UltraViolet on the whole then they better start thinking of a way to let people who invested a lot of cash buying digital films on other platforms that are riddled with DRM move their movie libraries. I don’t know too many people who will be willing to manage two video libraries in two different applications. It’s not going to happen.
If you find yourself in the same boat, and you’re pissed, you can voice your concerns here: support.ultraviolet.flixster.com