The Kickstarter-funded Veronica Mars movie landed not only in theaters, but on Ultraviolet digital streaming and on iTunes yesterday. For a Hollywood movie from a studio like Warner Brothers, that's... transcendent. But as much as it might have presaged a new era in entertainment, it also highlighted some massive ongoing problems. Mainly, the digital downloads offered to backers turned out not to be the iTunes codes some wanted but Ultraviolet streams instead. That caused a lot of confusion and more than a little anger. Moisés Chiullan, writing for TechHive:
UltraViolet is a studio-backed system that came about as a response to the massive success of Apple's iTunes as a digital media storefront. Understandably, the movie and TV studios did not want to be beholden to Apple as they felt the music industry had become. The problem is that the catch-all solution the studios came up with is neither intuitive nor convenient—and as consequence, not widely adopted. And that's a problem for a few reasons. First, device compatibility is problematic, especially if you're an iOS user who wants to watch the movie on your TV. And second, signing up for the UltraViolet service is complicated and messy.
I backed Veronica Mars on Kickstarter, I bought a ticket for the premiere, and I pre-ordered on iTunes anyway because I love the idea and want to see more of it. That said, expecting everyone to pay close to $150 just to watch a movie on the Apple TV is ludicrous. (Ultraviolet is only supported on iPhone and iPad, not Apple TV, and does not allow AirPlay.)
I've met industry backed "standards" before. Like Ultraviolet they are harder to use than Apple's versions, less consumer friendly, and almost without exception end up abandoned for those very reasons.
Chiullan does an excellent job explaining the problem. Give his article a read and then come back here and let me know — do you use Ultraviolet? Do you like it? And is the push-back on Veronica Mars justified or just Apple-centric people being far too Apple-centric?
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