It feels like deja vu. Set-top movie service Vudu has slashed its prices again. The entry level Vudu box can now be purchased for $149 (down from $295), and this time without any kind of mail in rebate. That said, the box still doesn’t feature built-in WiFi connectivity, so the company has also “slashed” the price of its optional wireless kit to $79. Add the two together and the price is a less enticing $228.
Of course, any price cut is a welcome one and, slowly but surely, Vudu is getting closer to the ‘feels like free’ price point that I’ve argued is needed if the service is ever to go mass market. For that to happen, however, here’s what else Vudu needs to do…
Get the price down to the $99 sweet spot. This would then make Vudu an impulse buy and, for many consumers, would rule out a rival purchase, such as the AppleTV, Blockbuster set-top box or a host of Internet-connected media extenders. Vudu would, of course, have to make a loss on the hardware at this price point, so I think it’s very unlikely to happen.
Add WiFi connectivity. It’s 2009 not 1999.
Emphasize support for YouTube and other Internet video. The recent addition of support for Internet services, aside from Vudu’s own 13,000 movie and TV show library, goes along way to stopping the Vudu set-top box from being a one trick pony. I’d never buy a set-top box that only gives me access to paid-for Video-On-Demand. That’s what my cable TV subscription is for. Add in a bunch of other Internet content — YouTube, Flickr etc — and you’ve got me through the door and into the store. Currently, this aspect of the Vudu set-top box is a little buried in the marketing under ‘Vudu Labs’. Instead, name names a bit more e.g. YouTube!
Offer a subscription model. Again, this one is unlikely but why not give Netflix a better run for its money? Instead of paying per rental, let customers pay a fixed monthly subscription that makes it cheaper to ‘rent’ a bundle of movies or TV shows.
Keep shouting about HD. Millions of people will have upgraded their TVs to a HD model only to discover that there is hardly any HD content out there. Vudu boasts “the world’s largest HD movie collection”. Say it loud, say it proud.
That said, my unsolicited advice maybe in vain, since Vudu has indicated that the company’s future lies not in selling its own hardware but getting its service onto third-party devices.