Despite making its own range of set-top boxes, including two high end devices aimed at home theatre enthusiasts, Vudu’s future ultimately lies outside of building its own hardware, says the company.
“We’re a software company first and foremost,” Vudu co-founder Tony Miranz tells CEPro.com. The set-top movie box service had to design and manufacture its own hardware in order to sell the concept to third-party consumer electronics companies, says Miranz. The plan now is to “try to piggyback on TVs, DVD players and other classes of devices.”
Furthermore, consumer electronics companies like what they see: “Right now, we’re getting bombarded with inquiries. … Our job right now really is to pick and choose partners that we want to work with.”
Of course, with or without hardware partners, Vudu exists in a nascent but increasingly crowded market that includes Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Blockbuster and others. On that note, the company has tried to position itself as a premium service, offering more High Definition content than its competitors and a superior user experience. A strategy that Miranz suggests is paying off. “We have the highest RPU [revenue per user] of any video-on-demand in the industry … by orders of magnitude. The better the user interface, the higher the revenue per box.”
Getting Vudu’s content and software onto a broader range of devices would also help to further address my accusation that the service is a bit of a one trick pony. Essentially charging an up front cost for the hardware simply to enter the store.
However, despite Miranz’s spin of the company’s future prospects, CEPro.com also reports a further round of layoffs at Vudu. At its peek the company had “as many as 110 or so employees and is now down to about 50.” Another round of funding is also needed “sooner” rather than later, something that could be problematic during the current economic climate.