Vudu does Wikipedia
Microsoft's WebTV service proved pretty conclusively that the masses don't want to surf the Web on their TVs. They want to watch videos, not browse for bargains on Craigslist. Technologies that integrate Web content into TV programming, on the other hand, seem much more promising. Vudu, which delivers movies on demand through the Internet to TV sets, is launching one example today, adding content streamed from Wikipedia to its program guide.
It's a pretty simple idea. When Vudu users steer their TV sets to one of Vudu's "movie details" screens, they see a brief description of the film in question along with links to more information about the cast, reviews and similar titles. Today, Vudu is adding a new link that will take viewers to the relevant page in Wikipedia.
There's some technological niftiness involved -- for example, the links inside the Wikipedia pages will be live, enabling people to navigate around the site as if they were using a browser. And any reference in Wikipedia to an actor, director or movie that's in Vudu's database will include links to movies in the Vudu service.
The addition of Wikipedia content is a baby step in the direction of integrated Web content, but it shows off one of the advantages of Vudu streaming its user interface to devices, rather than having it baked into the set-top box. That approach enables the company to update the features of its software in a way that's consistent across all devices, whether they are dedicated Vudu set-tops or multi-purpose devices running Vudu's software. Umm, but there's a catch -- this feature will reach the multi-purpose devices today, but the Vudu set-tops will have to wait for it.
-- Jon Healey