UltraViolet not yet ready says Hollywood tech strategist

posted on Wednesday, 28th March 2012 by Steve May

home cinema  Blu-ray  Streaming 

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UltraViolet, the long-touted universal digital locker system which integrates physical discs with cloud-based versions for consumers to stream and download, is still a work in progress. So says Danny Kaye, Fox Home Entertainment's global technology strategist.

Speaking at the PEVE home entertainment industry conference in London yesterday, Kaye (pictured) declined to say if Fox would be releasing any UV titles this year. Despite being advocates for the system the Studio has yet to support its US rollout. "We consider UltraViolet a serious work in progress, but the user interface isn't ready yet," he said.

Intriguingly, a consumer panel assembled for the PEVE event said that they were definitely interested in the concept of 'an iCloud for movies' provided it didn't come with any additional costs. They felt it should be a feature of any DVD or Blu-ray they buy. The panel also said they would be similarly interested in a Disc-to-Digital program, which would enable them to obtain cloud versions of movies they already own, however no one was prepared to pay for the service. In the US, WalMart has announced just such a program, which begins April 16. Consumers will be able to get a digital version of any movie they own added to their WallMart Vudu digital account for $2, or upgrade it to an HD version for $5.

Kaye also revealed that the home entertainment industry was beginning to buck the economic downturn, and Blu-ray was gaining real traction with mainstream consumers. 

"The third quarter of 2011 was the first quarter of growth since Q1 of 2008," he said. "The first quarter of 2012 also showed growth, not just overall, but in the physical (disc) market as well. This is a pretty phenomenal performance given how dire some of the prognostications have been."

Kaye was quick to dismiss claims that Blu-ray has underperformed since its launch. "The format has actually been quite successful," he argued. "If you look at growth rates for last year - 17 per cent for the US, double digital growth in other markets, including a 38 per cent boom in Germany, these are big numbers." He says disc sales are not restricted to new release titles either. "The growth is also on back catalogue." This, he believes, is very significant.

 "If you're a consumer thinking that a format is going to become obsolete, that you won't be able to play your discs again, you're obviously not going to invest in it. What these growth rates are telling us is that consumers already realise that this is the new format, and they can begin to transition their DVD libraries over to Blu-ray.  These are tremendous growth rates."

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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