Vdio finally exited a closed beta on Tuesday, with the new made-for-iPad app promising to deliver high-level social network integration, in much the same way as parent service Rdio. subscribers in the US and UK,
As noted by GigaOm, Vdio is not a subscription service, but instead offering users the means to rent or purchase movies or TV shows based on what friends are watching. By incorporating a social aspect with content discovery, Vdio could be a better solution than competitors which use crowdsourced algorithms to recommend content.
In operation, Vdio ties into users' existing Rdio subscriber accounts, letting them see what videos friends are watching. Also available is playlist creation, content management and other advanced features that can be accessed either through the service's web client or iPad app.
Pricing is in line with rival offerings, with new movies coming in at around $5 to rent and $15 to own. It should be noted, however, that on top of those fees a $25-per year subscription to Rdio is required.
Vdio can be downloaded for free from the App Store, but a Rdio account is required and the service is currently limited to the U.S. and the U.K. The service is expected to expand operations to the rest of the world this summer.
Rdio and Vdio operate differently -- where Rdio is a monthly subscription service, Vdio is a streaming video sales venue with attached social features to see what friends have purchased on the service. The company claims to have evaluated subscriptions, but believes that the model they settled on would allow them to compete more with competing services from Netflix or Amazon. Subscriptions remain a possibility for the future, according to the company.
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Vdio currently allows users to rent or buy content from networks like CBS, ABC, Fox, Comedy Central, Showtime, the BBC, and NBC, as well as content from studios like Disney, Fox, Universal, and Warner Brothers. Gigaom notes that "the app doesn’t actually allow users to rent or purchase content, presumably to avoid [having] to give Apple a cut for in-app purchases. Instead, it only lets users play content they’ve previously purchased on the Web."
Hollywood offerings are available from Disney, Fox, Universal Studios, and Warner Brothers. All of the major television networks has content on the service, plus content from the BBC, Comedy Central, and Showtime. No HBO content is present on the service, with the company's Vice President of Product Malthe Sigurdsson reporting that it was hoping to have HBO content available soon.
Television shows generally sell for $3 per episode, with movie ownership priced at $14, with a rental option for $5. The company doesn't differentiate between HD and SD content in the store, and says that it will "always deliver Vdio in the highest quality possible."
Videos are viewable in an HTML5-complaint browser, as well as an iPad app. Content may not be purchased on the iPad, but only selected for viewing from the existing library, possibly to avoid Apple's in-app purchase payment requirement.