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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Friday, September 08, 2006

Amazon beats Apple to punch with movie downloads

USA Today:
Internet giant Amazon on Thursday threw down a gauntlet at Apple by launching Amazon Unbox, its long-anticipated movie-download service. Apple has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday at which it is widely expected to answer by expanding its popular iTunes digital store to include a similar service.

Paid movie downloads have been available for years. Whether either tech titan can break consumers' preference for renting or buying DVD movies remains to be seen. "Our goal is to offer consumers great choice," says Bill Carr, Amazon's vice president of digital media. Amazon's 59 million active customers can now order DVD movies shipped to their door or "choose unboxed movies and download directly to their PC," he says.

Amazon will pitch Unbox on its popular IMDb movie trivia website. It will make available TV programs and movies from 30 Hollywood studios. Movie rentals will run $3 to $4; purchases $8 to $15. TV programs will run $2 per episode. "It's a natural way to keep loyal customers coming back," says retail industry analyst Dan Geiman of McAdams Wright Ragen.
This actually looks interesting.

For example, a TV show from iTunes costs $1.99 and features a postage stamp sized 320 x 240 resolution. A TV show from Amazon costs the same $1.99 but is available in two formats, a high quality 640 x 480 version for PCs (and Media Center PCs, like the one attached to my PC) and a 320 x 240 version for portable devices. Amazon also offers both movie rentals and purchases (but just purchases for TV shows).

There are downsides to the Amazon service, of course. That is doesn't work with iPods isn't really one of the yet, since the only iPod that can play video features a tiny screen and abysmal battery life while watching video. Should a "real" video iPod show up next week, we can reassess the situation. But for now, the Amazon service is limited to 2 PCs, though it does offer a way to copy files between them, and two portable devices. You can't make a DVD movie of a purchase movie, even though CinemaNow and MovieLink are both offering that feature.
[ Posted at 11:31 AM | Permalink ]


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