Earlier in the year Netflix announced they would have a dedicated button on remote controls for connected devices coming from some manufacturers. Wal-Mart obviously thought that a brilliant idea and so got those same manufacturers to put some Vudu buttons on the remotes as well. If I had a choice, I would choose nothing over Vudu (just a personal distaste for all things Wal-Mart).
Some people don't see this as being interesting, but it really is. It demonstrates that rapid pace of screen convergence. Remote controls for TVs will have buttons to reach out to the Internet and pull down video. That's massive for screen convergence and also does away with extra peripherals like Google TV, etc. Sure, there are still other reasons to have a Google TV unit, but I imagine that they might want to start looking at getting their stuff right into upcoming connected TVs if they want to keep on with that initiative.
Less Gear, More Access, Everywhere
The future is not more equipment, it is less. It is convergence of our video viewing into one place and it is being able to access all of our content on any device. Manufacturers see this, Netflix, Hulu, yeah, even Vudu see this. Even the cable companies like Time Warner, Comcast and Cox all see this.
The only ones that don't see it are the studios. That simply means that they'll be the ones left behind. They constantly seem to think that this is all about them losing profit when really it's all about us getting the content we want, which, if they were smart, would mean more profit for them.
This trend should continue and I wouldn't be surprised if we see dedicated buttons for YouTube and Hulu announced within the next couple months. Vizio seems open to doing this the most as they've cut deals with Vudu, but that seems to be the only one right now.
The New Battleground: Dedicated Buttons
Netflix on the other hand has cut a deal with Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Best Buy (Dynex), Haier, Memorex for Blu-Ray as well as Boxee, Iomega, and Roku boxes. TVs include Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba.
Eventually I think remotes will have so many buttons that they will be akin to holding a laptop without the display. What might be smarter would be LED buttons that can be changed and show multiple options which can be cycled through like what we have seen in some upcoming portable computing hardware. My father has a pretty cool remote that has a small touch screen on it. That would be another option which would save on remote size.
The example that Vudu is showing off (see image right) is clunky and not at all good for production costs or for user accessibility. I don't want a remote with 100 buttons I want a remote with some standard buttons and some cool touch screen controls to save space. I have no problem with cycling through four or five options to get to what I want. With four items on the screen per page, that's about 16-20 options with far less buttons.
Of course, that image right there is just Vudu trying to put themselves in the same league as Netflix while Netflix is already moving on to the next level, mark my words.