Voddler suspended until March 8th

voddler-message.pngOn the eve of our exclusive interview with Voddler, things couldn’t be worse for the “Spotify for movies” streaming service. Although only rolled-out in Sweden less than six months ago, the service was suspended yesterday until March 8th due to hackers using VLC Player to download films streamed on it. Voddler are therefore pinning all their hopes on the new Adobe Air Flash based web client to be launched next month.

However, I think there’s a little more to it than that.

There has been much criticism from users over the usability of the desktop client and in retrospect, it may have been wiser for them to have launched the YouTube style web client first. In fact, I asked Vice President of Business Development at Voddler Mathias Tönnesson about this issue during the interview.

Do you think in hindsight, because some people have “complained” about the functionality of the desktop client because its designed more for using with a TV and keyboard at ten meters away, it would have been better to have launched the web client first and then gone onto the desktop client?

Tönnesson: I think the history we are actually bringing with us is to give the end user a fantastic customer experience. It comes with the viewpoint that you sit in your sofa with a big TV screen and you have a fantastic one and a half hours watching a movie, I think that legacy actually makes it easier for us to take the step out onto the web. I think if we had started on the web, I think we would have forgotten about the ultimate aim is to provide a fantastic environment for watching movies with great picture quality etc and I think that’s really important. So I’m really happy that we’re starting with the 10 meters away idea and then in phase two, making the content even more available to a wider audience.

However, I’m not sure users are quite so upbeat about this logic behind the move. I’ve noticed a hell of a lot of people on Twitter complaining about the functionality of the desktop client – and I presume Voddler must have been following such criticism too – and maybe the security breach was seen as a good opportunity to clean-up problems with the client – or even ditch it completely for now – before a PR disaster developed.

Of the new web client, Voddler say:

The new Voddler will feature web-based movie-player, search tool and mouse control. With a completely web-based movie service Voddler is confident to be able to meet the ever-growing demand for a great selection of free and rentable movies in an accessible environment. The sparkling new Voddler service will not only satisfy the Swedish movie-viewers but the time has come to invite Norway, Denmark and Finland.

In some ways this raises more questions than it answers about the future of Voddler however:

  • If security has been so easily breached on Voddler, doesn’t it raise questions about how secure the P2P sharing network is that you’re using? After all, there’s a reason that Voddler requires 13GB of hard drive space – to share the film you’re streaming with other users.
  • Is it really going to be possible to deliver the same quality of streaming, video and sound over what is essentially an Adobe Air based Flash platform?
  • Will the Voddler client be available again after March 8th?
  • Will those that have beta invites for the client be able to access the web client or will they require new invites?
  • If it’s the downloading of films from Voddler that’s such a concern, surely its going to be even easier on an a Flash based client which hackers are far more familiar with?

Judging by some of the comments left on the Voddler blog, the decision to move to Flash isn’t popular with everyone either. Personally, I think as long as its executed more smoothly than the desktop release and the film selection is much wider and more up to date, it could be the launchpad that Voddler have been looking for. If not however, the success of Voddler could look very dubious indeed.

Don’t miss the half-hour video interview tomorrow for a closer look at Voddler.

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