UltraViolet, the movie industry's solution to the problem of a fragmented and incompatible digital movie marketplace, hasn't exactly taken the world by storm since it launched in the fall. Retailer support has been minimal thus far, but the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (a consortium of movie studios, hardware manufacturers, and retailers) may be about to get a boost from one of the biggest retailers around: Walmart. According to The Wall Street Journal, Walmart and the DECE are in talks to offer an in-store service that allows consumers to upgrade their old DVDs to UltraViolet digital copies. Walmart employees will reportedly help consumers set up accounts and convert their old collection to digital for a "small fee" — it's not yet clear how much this service will actually cost.
A partnership with Walmart might be just what UltraViolet needs to gain mass consumer awareness, and it sounds like there will finally be some major marketing dollars thrown behind this as well. A scheduled March announcement should also be accompanied by a $30 million ad campaign, which should help make the 140 million weekly Walmart in-store visitors aware of this new initiative. This isn't the first we've heard about an UltraViolet "disc to digital" system — back at CES, Samsung announced it would offer owners of its newest Blu-Ray players the option to insert old DVDs and upgrade them to digital files, but we haven't heard anything else about this service yet. It seems Walmart might beat them to the punch, but it remains to be seen what impact this will have on consumer adoption of this somewhat confusing standard.