The Vudu video-streaming service is coming to the iPad, but not as an app.
Vudu is starting to streaming video to the iPad's Web browser on Wednesday, joining other companies in avoiding the fees that Apple applies to any content sold through dedicated apps.
Apple Inc. takes a 30 percent cut of content such as movies sold through apps, a charge that some companies find hard to accept. Earlier this summer, The Financial Times created an app-like website for its newspaper to avoid Apple's fees.
Vudu.com's business model is similar to Apple's own iTunes. It rents out movies for $1 to $6 for a 24-hour or 48-hour viewing period. It also sells them for $5 and up, which allows viewing any time. Its claim to fame is that it has many movies on the same day they're released on DVD.
By using the browser instead of an app, Vudu bypasses Apple's iTunes checkout process, but the movies can only be viewed with a live Internet connection. They can't be downloaded and played back later, as iTunes movies can.
Vudu's site already works with PC browsers, but the Flash technology used doesn't work on the iPad. Instead, Vudu is using "Live Streaming" tools from Apple to reach the tablet.
Edward Lichty, general manager for Vudu, said the site will also work with iPhones and iPod Touches, but the interface could be hard to navigate, because it's designed for tablets. The movies will even stream over "3G" cellular broadband, but the image quality will suffer, and a full movie would eat a lot of the monthly data allowance that iPad plans usually come with.
Vudu is owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The Little Rock, Ark.-based retailer bought Vudu a year and a half ago.