Blog Post

It’s already Showtime at Amazon

In an attempt to avoid being an also-ran to Apple’s expected iTunes movie announcement next week, Amazon has launched its video download service, Unbox. Movies — 1355 of them, it seems — are available from Warner Bros., NBC Universal, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and others. According to the AP story, movies cost $7.99 to $14.99 to buy and $3.99 to rent, but we’re seeing a range all the way from $2.99 to $19.59 for downloads. Television shows are available as well, for $1.99 per episode (with your first TV show free right now). The service required a piece of software and will only work on Windows. Portability is limited to players using Windows Media Player and DVDs played only on the computer that originally received the movie download, as reported previously. Top that, Apple![Updates to follow.]

13 Responses to “It’s already Showtime at Amazon”

  1. Jesse Kopelman

    It’s insane to do this as a la carte rentals vs. subscription, but of course subscription management is a lot trickier when you are dealing with virtual property. Like many things, going to downloadable movie rental/purchase seems like a no-brainer, but the reality is that the tech is just not there to beat the economics of the conventional methods — see satellite based mobile telephony.

  2. Why is that on every story comparing an Apple product/service with another product, Apple gets a free pass?

    Apple Downloads – Only Disney Distributed Movies

    Amazon Unbox and other services – Warner Bros., NBC Universal, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and more.

  3. Jacob Varghese

    Finally downloaded and installed the unbox app which was a struggle (fyi: if you have .net 2.0 beta installed, you must uninstall this first).
    Now it looks like the servers are being overworked on the first day – haven’t been able to connect so that I can download my video.
    To purchase a video, you are sent to a browser.
    To keep track of purchased videos, you are sent to the new YourMediaLibrary section of Amazon.

    iTunes isn’t perfect, but Amazon should’ve spent a little bit more time on the interface and the download process.

  4. The prices on movies are too high as others have stated. A rental plan like Netflix is needed. The selection is quite good and the compression very good on the one TV show I tried out. It’s imperative that they get Microsoft to open up the video stream capability without Windows Media Center so people can watch on TV with their Xbox. Microsoft will be missing out on a good opportunity here.

  5. I know it sounds like Apple fan boy, but I think a Windows-only offering in this space is not going to get traction. This is simple extrapolation from the success of iTMS and lack of success of Movielink and Cinemanow.

    Offering rentals is crucial since I think DVDs will compete very effectively with online movie sales. $4/rental is a tad high.

    And I thikn Apple will get it right yet again by putting the store in client software instead of a lame web site.

  6. Jacob Varghese

    The experience leaves a lot to be desired when compared to the ease of purchasing and downloading from iTunes.

    But the 1.99 DVD-Quality and portable quality TV download is far better offering than iTunes.

    It’ll be tough for Apple to beat or according to rumors even match this.