Walmart has just announced their Vudu movie streaming service is now available to iPad users via a web app (opposed to an iOS app), which effectively allows the company to go behind Apple’s back rather than partake in their App Store revenue sharing model. The app also works on other iOS devices, but hasn’t yet been optimized for the smaller screen. They’ve also announced their iTunes competitor, mp3.walmart.com, will be closing indefinitely starting August 28, 2011. However, the announcement notes the Walmart Soundcheck music streaming service will remain available, making us wonder if they have plans on implementing an iPad-specific version much like they’ve done with Vudu…
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen content providers trying to avoid sharing profits with Apple. In fact, just yesterday we told you about the new Kindle Cloud Reader app that is accessible via the web, much the same as Vudu. While not sharing revenue is an obvious benefit of bypassing the App Store, TechCrunch points out there are many other advantages as well.
For instance, by avoiding the App Store’s restrictions, Vudu will be able to push out new updates whenever they see fit, rather than having to wait for Apple’s approval. It seems like more and more developers have been pushed away from the traditional iOS app model due to stringent approval policies and the unpredictability of Apple’s ever-changing process.
The real question is.. do these web apps compare to the experience offered by native apps?
At the end of the day, that’s all the end user is worried about…whether Apple is taking a portion of the profits doesn’t really impact the average iPad user’s decision and won’t encourage many to pick Vudu over Netflix, for example. However, the ability Vudu has over traditional iOS apps in terms of being able to offer new functionality, fixes, and features via updates on their own schedule may give them the upper hand. It may also allow them to provide the best experience possible to tablet users as web apps start to closer resemble the smooth experience of a conventional app. Many also note designing a web app, in theory, would allow you to more easily port it to various platforms, which is also an obvious advantage to the web app model.
Do you think Apple should be worried about devs designing web apps to avoid App Store policies and revenue sharing?