Redeeming those UltraViolet codes that come bundled with Blu-rays and downloading digital copies of your movies isn't the hopelessly confusing mess it once was. Even so, the studio-backed cloud locker service is still failing to catch on with most consumers. At the very least, it's not posing much of a threat to Apple and the iTunes Store. But that could eventually change thanks to one of Apple's familiar foes: Amazon. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is finally considering throwing its hat in the ring and getting behind UltraViolet for digital movie purchases. The online retailer has held talks with Warner Bros. Pictures, Sony Pictures, and Universal Pictures, according to the report.
UltraViolet has already partnered up with many traditional retailers — most notably Walmart — to help the cause. On the digital side, you can purchase movies from Vudu, Target Ticket, Barnes & Noble's Nook Store, or CinemaNow and play them across iOS, Android, PC, and Mac through supported UltraViolet apps like Vudu, Flixster, and others. Here are all the ways you can watch UltraViolet movies right now:
It's a complicated approach; more options are good, but clearly consumers are confused by the current layout. UltraViolet's strategy asks a lot from consumers, mostly because it still just takes too long to set up. And that's disappointing since UltraViolet comes with decent perks like the ability to share your library with up to five people. Amazon could help turn things around. Amazon could potentially skip the confusing redemption codes altogether. Think of the company's AutoRip program for CD purchases; you buy a physical disc and instantly get a digital copy without having to do anything or even think about it. Apply that formula to Blu-ray and you're onto something. With a linked UltraViolet account, you'd of course be able to watch that content elsewhere, too. Amazon joining in doesn't mean existing partners have to lose.
Complexity is the problem, and Amazon has the answer
Currently UltraViolet says it's got around 20 million registered accounts, with each library holding an average of five digital movies, according to the Journal. Those figures aren't abysmal, but UltraViolet still isn't the worthy iTunes alternative that studios had hoped for. One of the primary reasons they created UltraViolet to begin with was to keep Apple from gaining the same level of influence over the movie business that it's long held over music. With a digital movies rental/purchase market share of 15 percent, you could argue that Amazon is no iTunes killer either, but it's definitely closer. And plenty of people are still buying movies from Amazon the old fashioned way: on disc. Putting Amazon and UltraViolet together could help studios chip away at Apple's lead in market share, and hopefully make things simpler and more convenient for users at the same time.