Already available on Apple’s iPad, Amazon released its Instant Video App for iPhone and iPod touch devices on Thursday. The free app allows all iOS users to watch any of the 140,000 video titles in Amazon’s library. Amazon Prime customers can also view the more 30,000 titles in Amazon’s Prime Instant Video library at no additional cost.
The two most used features on the new software are likely to be the same as on the iPad version. You can’t actually purchase or rent a video from the Instant Video App. Instead, you’ll rely on the Watchlist and Video Library features. These two locations house the titles you have added to a list of favorites, previously rented or purchased.
Likely due to Apple’s requirement for a 30 percent cut of in-app purchases, you’ll need to browse Amazon’s video store on Safari to make your purchase or rental. As an Amazon Prime customer, I find this to be a mild annoyance on my iPad mini although it hasn’t yet stopped me from using Amazon’s video service.
I still wonder how this action fits Amazon’s long-term mobile strategy. Before Amazon introduced its Kindle Fire tablet last year, it had no mobile devices of its own although it signaled the possibility with an Appstore for Android devices. Supporting other devices for purchase and playback of movies, MP3 songs and other digital content certainly made sense. And to a point, it still does because it earns revenue from content sales regardless of what device is used to consume it.
As the Kindle Fire line has expanded to more tablets and various on-again, off-again rumors of an Amazon smartphone, does this “support everything” strategy still make sense? Yes, it can certainly keep content revenue flowing. But it won’t help differentiate Amazon devices from competing handsets or tablets.
Apple was able to do just that by working out content deals far in advance of its competitors. The gap has closed as few devices now have exclusive content, but if Amazon wants to play in the mobile hardware game, it may have to change its content strategy.