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Summary:

Amazon Unbox videos reportedly are compatible with and play back on the HTC Thunderbolt, with no major effort on the user’s part. Downloading a video and setting the USB-connected phone to Sync mode does the trick. Could video be the final piece to Amazon’s Android puzzle?

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Netflix on Android was big news yesterday, but I wouldn’t count Amazon out of the portable video market just yet. Pocketables, a mobile enthusiast website, reports that Amazon Unbox videos play back on the HTC Thunderbolt, without much effort on a user’s part. The simple process entails nothing more than a download of the media file, connecting the smartphone to a computer and activating the device’s Sync mode.

I’m not able to confirm the process, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did work — at least on HTC devices. Amazon has long supported mobile device playback for its Unbox service, although only for certain devices: most prominent were those compatible with Microsoft’s Plays For Sure initiative. A recent check of Amazon Unbox still shows an option to download a portable version of any media file, as well. The standard Unbox files are .wmv, while portable file format has a .amzn extension, so I suspect that the phone is converting it to a format compatible with Android; perhaps via HTC’s Sync software.

Regardless of what magic goes on behind the scenes for Amazon Unbox playback on Android devices, video is the only media Amazon doesn’t yet offer for Android. And if the company does plan to out a tablet device as expected, offering a video service could add appeal, although it will have to compete with Google’s recently introduced Movies service for smartphones and tablets.

Still, Amazon could offer the complete media package for Amazon: a Cloud Storage service, music store with streaming support, Kindle e-books, an app store with free software daily, and a video store for rentals and purchases. With all of these services tied to a single Amazon account, the simplicity and breadth of services would rival that of Apple’s iTunes store, something that Google has failed to deliver yet.

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  1. This works on the Droid 2 Global as well, but only for purchased (not rented) videos. On a related note, Zune Pass music (DRM’ed) also syncs to the D2G, though erratically.

  2. What? Until they offer all-you-can-stream for under $10, on every concievable platform, I don’t think Netflix will be too worried. Amazon is competing with Apple and Google, not Netflix.

    1. Raymond Padilla Woebot Friday, May 13, 2011

      Amazon offers unlimited streaming to Amazon Prime customers for under $10 a month. The selection isn’t as good as Netflix’s, but you also get free two-day shipping and $3.99 next-day shipping.

  3. Your article summarized:
    “entails nothing more than a download of the media file, connecting the smartphone to a computer”
    Any device can play any media file if you walk it through a computer because of re-encoders like handbrake. You could effectively replace amazon with digital download and android with a $50 drugstore portable media player.

    Comparing an online streaming service to a tethered media sync process is just, well, delete this article now and save your reputation. Especially since “I’m not able to confirm the process, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it did work;” you didn’t bother to validate your own article.

    1. Read the comments from folks who have tested it indicating that it requires no re-encoding. Then think outside the box from what Amazon currently offers to what they easily could (and really should) offer with video streaming to mobiles. ;)

  4. Downloading and transfering the mobile device version of the purchased video is easy. It also works on my Samsung Galaxy Tab. Consumers like easy. Also, right now you can stream purchased and rented Amazon videos to Android devices as well as the PlayBook. This also goes for videos available through Amazon’s subscription. service.

    1. Which Galaxy Tab do you have and how are you transferring the files? I simply copied it over and had no luck. Thanks for additional information.

  5. I have been doing this for months… I have never had issues syncing purchased movies from amazon to my android phone…

  6. This post is worthless. How can you compare Netflix to using Android as a media player?

    1. Kevin C. Tofel Josh Friday, May 13, 2011

      I’m not suggesting that they’re the exact same, but they are comparable. Amazon offers unlimited video streaming to Prime members and it wouldn’t be a stretch for them to offer a streaming subscription package from that.

      1. They ARE NOT comparable. On one hand, you have a service that can play video on mobile devices. On the other hand, you have a service that you have to download from a PC and then sync to your mobile device.

        Great insight. I’m sure no one else has thought of Amazon offering a subscription package. Think the Prime service is just Amazon’s way of having a beta? I do.

        I’m disappointed in this post. Take a page out of Apple’s playbook and know when to say “no”. This post never should have been written and you know it.

        1. Kevin C. Tofel Josh Friday, May 13, 2011

          You’re looking at what Amazon delivers now. I look at both what’s happening today and trends for tomorrow. That’s what led me in December of 2009 to write on this blog that Amazon was best positioned to create a cloud music service (which they have). I’ll agree to disagree on this discussion and move on.

  7. Amazon Unbox works on any Android device that supports Janus DRM, like Droid X. Amzon’s list of supported devices is out of date.

  8. Doesn’t work on Mac. so completely FIRED

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