updated 11:10 am EST, Tue December 16, 2008
VUDU RIA Platform
VUDU today staked out a potential edge in networked media hubs on Tuesday by launching a new platform specifically tailored to normally web-oriented services. The RIA (Rich Internet Application) standard lets developers write and users download add-ons that convert web games, photo and video services into a native program for the VUDU Box rather than have to use a special web browser or make special arrangements for app development. The implementation will make it relatively straightforward to integrate web content while still having a "lean-back" interface with remote control, the company explains.
Existing owners already have access to a set of casual games, photo viewing through Flickr and Picasa, and YouTube videos. An On Demand section is likewise active and is pulling web video from approximately 120 sources, including CNN, NBC and PBS. More apps and content providers are said to be enroute for 2009.
VUDU doesn't say whether it will ever export RIA beyond its own devices but touts the low performance demand of the software. As little as a 300MHz embedded processor with 128MB of RAM can use the core interface smoothly, the company says. HD and other high-resolution video is likely to require faster hardware.
Third parties will have access to RIA in the first half of next year.
The addition of readily optimized web content is a blow against Apple TV and other similarly networked hubs, many of which either lack the hardware necessary to play web video or else are limited by software choices that require the manufacturer to custom-code access to specific services. Solely web-based video services such as Hulu have grown in popularity but have been inaccessible from many set-top boxes without unofficial add-ons like Boxee that can access the video content, which often depends on Adobe's Flash for ads.