Who will be the (movie) Download Don?


Amazon has beaten Apple to the starting gate when it comes to movie download business, but that doesn’t ensure success. The service is getting mixed reviews. Techdirt calls it as “me too (read: not interesting) as you can get” and many believe that Apple will come-up with a winning package. Others like CinemaNow are not sitting still, and there is the looming specter of Microsoft and its Zune line of offerings. Who will be the ultimate winner? You decide.



DivX seems to be the best positioned to benefit from P2P. No one else is really supporting the .avi format for TV playback.


Well everyone seems to be rating one or the other download service provider and the various issues around the download services.
What one needs to realize that the vast majority of the population is not likely to Download to a PC/Mac and then use any form of technology to transfer viewing to the TV.
As it is for the society at large saving a file and burning a DVD is a very big evolution.
If at all like every other distribution channel this one shall capture 3-7% of the market share in the $28 billion market video distribution. The Bricks and Mortar stores like Walmart control 37% of the market share and that is not going to change anytime soon.
You see that Hollywood is unable to offer any pricing differential fearing they would eat into their deals with the Walmarts etc.
Given the bandwidth needed is not there as yet at a reasonable price of $30 or less, downloading of movies will be a niche and all the talk is just Hype.
Blu Ray and HD format wars have to be over first, then the bandwidth issues have to be sorted out and then. Give it another 5-9 years before you say a shift happen. When that shift happens it will be where you can watch the movie at the theater, get credit to download it again and burn a copy for yourself. Right now if you watch a movie at the theater or rent one through the video store and later on decide you want to own it, there is no way to discount the price nor do they want to make it possible. But that will be one of the models that shall bring the shift wherein content viewed and paid for once on one medium maybe discounted for viewing again or owning .
Until all this happens, be content to have Walmart, Netflix and your mom and pop store to service your needs most effectively.
The Long tail of this industry is only slowly thinking of wagging it.

Ravi Kamdar

I think microsoft can be successful as it has its operating system installed in everypc with its media player. It has also some tie ups with studios for its different products. Apple only has big support of ipods. they are not good for movies. as microsoft has more marketing and bargaining power, it can market it through its all live and msn brand channels.now it all depends on who has better collection of movies and at what rate they offer. I believe MS doesn’t need Zune to start this service. People wont watch whole movie on Zune, Will they?

Anyways, current winners are P2P like limewire :)


It seems everyone isnt looking at the dark hosrse that is DivX .

DivX just went with its IPO last month, it has most of the Consumer Emectronics Industrey in its pocket and an Install Base of 50 Milion DivX certifed devices sold world wide .Most of those devices being DivX certifed DVD players .

DivX launched Stage6 a video sharing site that seems to have a higher grade of content availible compared to YouTube and most importantly you can burn those video clips to a DivX Disk .

Next is Movies …And Seeing Sony sells DivX DVD players and Has a selection of their Trailers availible on the DivX website I can See DivX signing their fisrt deal with them .

DivX also solves the Download to Own problem and they have a uncracked account based DRM .

Rob Poitas

Don’t forget about Vongo Om. They do suck but they could be a player if they had better movies to pick from. I did a short review here.

I vote Amazon since they are innovative, less evil than Apple, and have major studio support already.


Quote: “A Windows-only service is doomed. I think Apple will surprise us with a Video AirPort Express making it more attractive than the current bunch”

Yea because so many people have an Airport and no one has Windows. Comedy gold.


A Windows-only service is doomed. I think Apple will surprise us with a Video AirPort Express making it more attractive than the current bunch (Amazon, CinemaNow, MovieLink) despite what will likely be a tiny catalog (Disney only?). The only problem I see for Apple is if they don’t offer rentals. Showstopper.


Is Apple going to offer movie rental?

I rented a movie from Unbox last night and the whole process was extremely smooth. It also downloaded way faster than any large download I’ve purchased from iTunes in the past year.

Also, I think Apple’s “own it for life and be responsible for backing it up” approach to DRM is totally assinine. Let’s hope Apple’s announcement includes subscription DRM and movie rental capabilities.

Amazon has fairly few titles right now (the first 20 I searched for were not even in the database) so one thing Apple could do out of the gate is offer a netflix sized collection of movies to download.


There’s no true benefit to the consumer with download services yet, I think, and there won’t be for quite some time. The fundamental shift that needs to happen for these services to take off is for them to distribute NEW, pseudo-exclusive content. If I can only see the new Wachowski brothers film on iTunes, you can bet your ass I’m there… if I have the choice of seeing it in the theater, grabbing it from P2P, waiting for the DVD from NetFlix, catching it on PayPerView, etc, etc, most of the incentive to download it from a legitimate service is gone. Why? Because the content is being released into so many different distributions channels around the same time. The only venues with a leg-up on the rest are the theaters, and that’s who these download services truly need to go after. The first download service to offer me something in my living room I can find nowhere else will win the download wars. For now, PirateBay is the leader in that arena, with NetFlix in close second.


I don’t think they are doing it on purpose, I’m using a filter (us based proxy) to browse at home, but a friend of mine says that if the unbox player detects that the IP it’s ouside US it blocks it. So It’s not global :-)
Prices are about the same, I think the reason they restrict it becouse movies are released at different times

Om Malik


thanks for the tip. that is pretty interesting. maybe going global on day one, they can capture the whole expat market?

what are the prices they are charging in Mexico?


Om, Something particular about the Amazon/unbox store is that you can ( at least as far a I know) download movies from everywhere – That means outside the US, Southamerica, and probably all Europe-.
The iTunes Stores are tailored to each country and it is not posible for a person outside the “suppoerted countries” to buy songs unless he has an American, English, etc, based credit card.
So for somebody in Mexico or Argentina , there is only one download service : Amazon’s
I don’t know if that is intended or not but to me is a good thing…


I think Apple will get home media distributin right, but it may not be obvious how at this early date. Amazon does pose a threat, evidenced by some very creative thinking behind their S3 and EC2 platforms. The same thinking, and internal corporate freedom to go beyond online retailing, can be applied to home distribution.

One thing seems clear: Microsoft, despite her past successes, is no longer the best looking girl at the party. And there’s little she can do but watch and remember what was. A lesson to all those who grew accustomed to accepting the invitations, but never showed any respect for the ones who brung you.


Is Apple planning on selling full resolution video material?

The video ITMS distributes now looks great on an iPod, mediocre on a 15 inch laptop monitor and like total crap on on a 42 inch plasma display.

Selling sub DVD resolution video, that takes hours to download, for full price is not something I’d pay for.


Was Apple really “beaten” to the gate? Sure, it’s available 4 days before Apple’s store, but besides tech sites and some major newspapers, this was a quiet launch that seems to be premature (lots are experiencing bugs and timeouts). And the store is selling TV content (folowing APPLE’S MODEL)… where Apple has a 35 million + lead.

Apple is already getting the press and the word out through every media outlet from Variety to the Financial News Sites to rumor sites to mainstream local news programs, etc… Next week the amount of attention will be absurd. A few weeks after that Apple will announce a million movie downloads while Amazon remains quiet.

And how come AOL who got a “big lead” on all the download sites didn’t even make the poll?


The winner in the movie download space will be the player that allows for convenient viewing on PCs, mobile devices, and on your TV. Unbox does not appear to be the service that will provide this flexibility.

For movie downloads to become mass market, the convenient integration with the TV must be in place. (Only us geeks will be happy to view movies on our laptops long term!) The question is, who will bring this to the market first, Microsoft with Zune/XBOX/Media Center or Apple with “one more thing” next week?

We are also covering this at Amazon Unbox launched; pieces of the puzzle missing


It’s too early to predict who will win the Movie download wars. End-to-end infrastructure for this is not yet ready. My prediction – this is going to be a highly fragmented market. No matter how much I wish Apple was the winner, this time it’s not going to be easy for his Steveness!

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