I’m not a conspiracy theory guy. In general, I don’t want to hear about second gunmen or grassy knolls, or missiles into the Pentagon or bombs pre-loaded into the Trade Center buildings. I hate all of that nonsense. For most things, I subscribe to the Occam’s razor theory, being that when presented with multiple hypotheses, generally the simplest explanation is usually the right one. However the timing of Wal-Mart announcing a new “Exclusive Disc-to-Digital Service” right when Kaleidescape is facing its worst legal ruling yet seems just a tad TOO incredible for me to believe as mere coincidental.
The fact that this announcement comes scarcely 24 hours after news hit that a California judge issued a potentially crippling verdict against movie server giant, Kaleidescape – the company that happened to PIONEER the “disc-to-digital” movie server concept – seems to give weight to Kaleidescape’s CEO and co-founder, Michael Malcolm’s, comments: “Maybe it’s because the large CE companies in Japan and the big computer companies in the USA, on the board of the DVD CCA, are afraid that Kaleidescape is building a better way to enjoy DVDs and Blu-ray Discs than they are.”
With Kaleidescape’s system pushed aside – or rendered non-compliant and incapable of further supporting DVD storage/streaming – it would open up the stage for an entirely different system to step in. So it is with a heaping grain of salt and credulity that I see that announcement from Wal-Mart about their partnership with Vudu to turn your precious DVDs into more manageable and portable and convenient digital copies.
Wal-Mart’s press release – available here – explains how the upcoming system will work. You would cruise into your local Wal-Mart with your DVDs, and would then create a Vudu account (free) and pay an “equal conversion“ fee to “receive digital access to [your] favorite titles from the partnering studios.” (The partnering studios being Paramount Home Media Distribution, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.) The fee would be $2 for standard def and $5 for High-Def. Once you have put these movies into your Vudu account, they would be available for viewing on any one of 300 Internet enabled Vudu devices and you get to get to keep your discs.
As I see it, Wal-Mart’s Disc-to-Digital service has some good and bad to it. Click here to see a list of the good and the suck at my personal blog.