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Vudu web streams to iPads to avoid sharing cash with Apple

Toshiba 46SL417U display Vudu interface

In a key move in its ongoing rumble with Netlflix, streaming-video service Vudu is now available on the iPad. Penetrating the Apple market is a big step for Vudu as it tries to keep up with the market leader.

Vudu announced the change in a statement with Wal-Mart, the service’s retail giant of a parent. Except, it’s not the usual iPad app announcement. In fact, Vudu doesn’t even have an app at all. Instead, Vudu reworked its own websites so that it can altogether avoid the legal wrangling and, more importantly, profit sharing of Apple’s App Store.

Vudu’s calling it a new “navigation experience” which seems to be a fancy way of saying its rebuilt its website to allow streaming video directly through a browser. After having previousy rolled out that tech for regular browsers along with TVs, game consoles and other web-connected devices, Vudu has launched a mobile-specific site that’s custome tailored for the iPad. The site used Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming, an adaptive bit rate streaming tech that guarantees video performance is at the maximum one’s network speed allows. Unfortunately, the streaming is only available in standard def.

Pointing users towards an iPad URL means Vudu was able to ditch the effort required to produce an App Store app and push it through Apple’s approval process. It also means that users don’t have to sort through Apple’s login interface when trying to access their Vudu account.

While that’s all a bit of hassle saved, it seems the number one reason Vudu didn’t come out with its own App is a reaction to Apple’s much-maligned iOS subscription rules. Under the rules implemented earlier this year, content publishers must offer subscriptions through the in-app purchasing system in iOS. The system forces publishers to sign new subscribers through Apple, who then takes a 30 percent cut off the top.

Vudu’s plan is to avoid the App Store altogether, which is a much cheaper way to get itself onto iPads. What will be interesting to see is if Apple customers embrace the browser-streaming experience or if the lack of an app will make the excursion a failure.

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Derek Mead
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