Vongo.com is Not a Flash Poster Child RIA

…but there still is hope.

Vongo.com is a movie download service for Starz, a cable movie TV channel. I found out about it when Danny Patterson blogged about it awhile ago, and thought at the time, “Neat!”. Examination of his blog almost 2 months later, I see he’s suddenly point man for support & damage control; that’s not fair to him.

While I’m sure many hoped this would be a fantastic example of Flash’s feature set, a poster child for Flash Platform in the Rich Internet Application sphere, it instead fails on two accounts.

First the website does not work with Flash Player 8.5 because of an incorrectly written Flash Player detection script. Second, it does not work on Mac’s.

While some could argue they shouldn’t be forced to have their website work with un-released beta software as their could be a valid reason 8.5 interferes with their service, I don’t buy that. My guess is they wrote it hardcoded for 8.0.22.0. I quickly brought the detection JavaScript into Flash 8, and removed some of the browser stuff, but it appears to be working as advertised; meaning, if the version is equal to OR greater than, it’ll return true, so someone’s using it wrong.

Second, one of the strength’s of Flash Player is that it is cross platform. While I’m sure Mac users appreciate the error message that assures them you are working on it, too bad… no f’ing excuse. If the software download doesn’t work, that’s one thing, but the web player? Flash Player works on a Mac; I know, I have one and have tested Flash Player 8 and the beta 8.5 on both.

Major frustration and major disappointment. This isn’t helpful to the cause. I still feel, however, they could salvage some face and perhaps give the industry some good press if they fix these issues. I know for a fact the detection one is simple, and am at a loss to explain why it doesn’t work on Mac.

10 Replies to “Vongo.com is Not a Flash Poster Child RIA”

  1. Not compatible with Mac because the client which you need to download to view the movies was wrap with a Windows wrapper. If you really look at it, even Zinc Mac version is too limited for any usage.

  2. Ah, so you download an exe client, and that exe is a Windows wrapper… that makes sense. Desktop software is hard to get dual platform so that makes sense. I guess the video isn’t done using Flash then?

  3. I’d like to point out that we (schematic) didn’t build the vongo.com website – it was created by another company and we have notofied them of the Flash detection problems with the 8.5 player and are *still* waiting for them to update it. It’s been so long, maybe they decided to not allow people with the 8.5 player into the site, who knows…

    But even that being the case, the vongo.com website is *not* the same as the vongo application.

    Which brings me to point 2, which is that the vongo application does not work on a mac simply because there is no DRM avaialable that works on time based subscriptions.

    Windows media player 10 works with subscriptions, so you can say ‘this movie expires next week’ and it will happen. Win macs there is no equivilant (I don’t even think the iTunes DRM supports this, but Apple hasn’t opened that up for everyone to use anyway).

  4. Ah, DRM, makes perfect sense. Yeah, with no way to protect the content you give to users, there is no point in giving it to them. That makes sense.

    Thanks for the down-lo Geoff, that makes me feel a ton better!

  5. What is the point of DRM on the files? I challenge you to find a single movie availabe for download from their service that isn’t already being pirated in the dark corners of the internet.

    So, to sum up, the DRM doesn’t stop people from pirating their shows, it only annoys people who have legally paid for the downloads, and in fact loses customers because their DRM doesn’t work on macs. Makes perfect buisness sense to me.

  6. DRM isn’t for consumers, it’s for providers to feel their content is protected. They are more willing to relinquish control over their brands to make money in the hands of others if people can sell them that their content is for the most part is protected.

    You don’t tell Time Warner ‘Anything can be hacked’, and expect to get a sale out of the deal.

    First comment to this entry summed it up really well for me in regards to how Apple has successfully done it… sort of. Depends on how you define success.

  7. Ah, DRM… my favorite thing to hate. It’s true that any software DRM is nothing more than false security. Therefore, you’re not doing clients any favors by giving them what they want when you give them a half-baked DRM solution. I’m not saying vongo is an example of this–in fact, I installed the exe and it worked just fine on the desktop.

    I’ll spare you all my long lecture on this topic, but when you give the client what they request–without telling them it’s a false security–you’re not doing them any service (not to mention the fact it primarily annoys your legit customers).

  8. I guess I should have been clearer in my post. I had nothing to do with the vongo.com web site and everything to do with the Vongo desktop application. I completely agree and think vongo.com should work on a Mac and FP8.5.

    Jesse has it right when he said ‘DRM isn’t for consumers.’ And just because there is a small percent of people hacking movies doesn’t make DRM worthless. Just think how many more people would be violating copyright law if it weren’t for some sort of DRM protection.

    And I don’t think anyone would be happier than Starz (the company behind Vongo) if Apple started supporting subscription-based DRM. Who knows, maybe Vongo will get big enough that Apple will have to listen. The press releases for Vongo explain that Microsoft and Sony (makers of the PSP) have already partnered with Starz for the Vongo service. Is Apple next? We can only hope. :)

    RE: Flash Detection…if they would have used Geoff’s FlashObject this wouldn’t be an issue.

  9. Flash 8.5 and The website locking out Macs were probably both vendor marketing choices. They probably decided that given that the product can’t be viewed on Macs, that they would locked them out. Plenty of other sites like Sony Connect do this.

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