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Amazon introduced a Video on Demand store today, and in one fell swoop may have turned the world of home video on its head. The new store will stream 40,000 movie and television programs for rent or purchase directly to Internet-connected TVs or set-top boxes or PCs. This move will be felt throughout the industry.
Delivery: Similar to the Roku, Amazon will stream video directly into your home. The New York Times, which broke the story, does not mention anything about HD capabilities for the service. Given the cruddy state of bandwidth in this country, streaming could pose a problem in homes with multiple people online, but after tasting the sweet simplicity of streaming through the Roku, I’m convinced this is the way to go.
Storage: In an innovative twist (and one that would make GigaOM and Mark Cuban swoon), Amazon stores this video cloud on its end. Pull the content down only when you want, and if you purchase a movie, Amazon holds it for you — and you can access it on any connected device you own. While it’s supposed to help prevent piracy, I think a bigger advantage is that now your purchase should never get outdated by being in an old format.
Netflix Roku: Amazon’s streaming approach is similar to the Netflix’s Roku, but there are some key differences on both ends. On the content side, Amazon has Roku beat to a pulp, offering 40,000 titles compared with Netflix’s 10,000. However, Amazon is a la carte, while Netflix is all you can eat. Amazon has said that it will make its service available on other boxes, and Roku has said it is getting content from other “big name” content providers, so maybe the Roku will bring the best of both worlds?
Other Set-Top Boxes: Amazon has a deal to put the VOD store on Sony Bravia TVs, but look for Panasonic to hop on board as well. Who needs a set-top box when you can order up what you want directly from the TV? Sure, Apple has Disney movies and Amazon doesn’t (for now), but is that enough to make you buy an Apple TV? And renting movies through the HP MediaSmart Connect means downloading the content to your computer first. Who needs the hassle?
Cable and Telephone Companies: Amazon’s vast video library could make it easier to dump your TV provider, but cable and telcos could retaliate and choke Amazon at the source through tiered broadband.
Features TK: If Amazon can get firmly entrenched in your living room, it won’t be hard for it to expand its offering. Photo sharing, video sharing, web video, Internet radio, heck even buying regular stuff all becomes possible with the click of the remote.