Mass market who? Vudu targets high end home theater crowd

Set-top box movie service Vudu already targets the home theater crowd with its higher end XL offering, but now the company is taking up a notch with the release of the Vudu XL2.

Described as being “designed specifically for professional home theater installations”, the XL2 sports an aluminum case that houses a 1U rack mountable unit, uses the “highest quality components”, and like its XL sibling, features a terabyte of storage — enough to store more than 500 standard definition movies. Other high end features include IP and IR control to allow the XL2 to be integrated into “most high-end home control systems”, along with 1080i HD output over component, and the ability to route and switch HD signals through the home with the use of off-the-shelf video switchers. The result, says Vudu’s Tony Miranz, makes the XL2 a home theater installer’s “weapon of choice”. At a premium price, of course.

The Vudu XL2 will be listed at $1,299 and is available today exclusively through more than 1,000 Vudu-certified custom installers, says the company.

It’s interesting to see Vudu continue to pursue the high end home theater market, a natural fit, in terms of the company’s recent focus on HD content. It also helps to differentiate Vudu’s offering, on a hardware level at least, from competitors such as TiVo, Apple and Microsoft. But does that make it the right strategy?

See also: Vudu’s boast: more HD content than the rest (but is the biz model the right one?)

Not if the company still has ambitions of reaching a mass market, something I think it will have a hard time doing until it switches to a more compelling business model whereby, instead of increasing the cost of the set-top box, the hardware should feel like it’s “free”.

As I’ve previously suggested, this could either be achieved by switching to a Netflix-like subscription service or offering cash back in the form of a voucher that can be redeemed for Vudu content, an idea the company has already been experimenting with in conjunction with Best Buy.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Leave a Reply