Want to purchase a Disney movie?  In the not so distant past, that was not as easy as it sounds.  If you didn’t purchase one of the movies within a certain time period, you were out of luck.  The movie would go into the “Disney Vault,” never to be seen again.  Or at least not until Disney decided to market the movie again.

The Disney Wiki website provides an explanation for this marketing strategy.  It states “this process is done to both control their market and to allow Disney films to be fresh for new generations of young children.”  This strategy has served Disney well for a long time.  Additionally, according to the same website, the strategy has had spin off effects, including “the fact that videos and DVDs of Disney films placed on moratorium become collectables, sold in stores and at auction websites such as eBay for sums in excess of their original suggested retail price.”

Yet, this week, Disney decided to pursue a different strategy.  In conjunction with Apple, Disney has made many of their movies available over the cloud, through an app called Disney Movies Anywhere.  Customers can now purchase Disney movies through their iTunes account and watch the movie whenever they wish.

This change seems sudden.  Just a few years ago, Disney passed on an opportunity to go digital with UltraViolet, “a digital movie storage and management system.”  According to a New York Times article, Disney was “worried that families — Disney’s core consumers — were not yet ready to embrace cloud storage technology.”  Additionally, Disney was confident with its brand name and wanted to deal with Apple when the time came to go digital.

What prompted this change?  Perhaps the time was ripe for a deal with Apple.  Or maybe Disney is adapting to the times.  As one journalist suggested, “it seems like Disney is opening up to a new kind of customer. One who wants a digital movie vault of their own.”  Maybe Disney believes that families are ready to embrace the cloud.  It is also possible that piracy played a role.  According to the Disney Wiki website, the Vault strategy “has made the Disney films a prime target for counterfeit DVD manufacturers.”  Perhaps Disney thinks that by making its movies available for purchase, anytime and anywhere, people will be willing to pay a nominal fee in exchange for access.

While possible, it is difficult to see how the Vault strategy can coexist with the app and there does not appear to be any statement discussing the future of the Vault.  Time will tell how Disney Movies Anywhere compares to the classic Disney Vault.

–Samantha Taylor

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