Vudu launches VOD box

This morning, some big news comes out of the small, but much publicized, Vudu, whose long-awaited TV set-top box is capable of downloading movies from the Web to TVs in consumer homes. It's not a new idea. In fact, it sounds a lot like a service Netflix launched recently, close to what Apple is trying to do with Apple TV, and similar to what telcos and cable TV companies are trying to perfect with their own video-on-demand offerings.

For these reasons and others, Vudu was initially dismissed by many observers last spring when the company launched, but now, reviews of the Vudu unit itself are sounding more positive. It's worth noting that despite all the activity in the set-top market and with VoD services from the telco and cable, no company (or segment of companies) has jumped out as a real VoD leader.

Telcos may have the edge here, being the new kids on the block who can shape and market their offerings according to the new demands of Web-savvy viewers. But the more opportunity Vudu and others get to play in the market, the harder that will be. Telcos should strike while the topic is hot, and point out how they will offer not only movies-on-demand, but other VoD offerings that won't require consumers to add a new, expensive box to their entertainment centers.

For More:
- Here's David Pogue's view of Vudu in The New York Times