With the gradual roll out of Amazon’s new video service, starting today, the company hopes to have fixed everything that was holding back adoption of its original “UnBox” video download store.
Gone are the lengthy downloads or the need to install special software, and instead, “Amazon On Demand” utilizes streaming so that content begins playing almost immediately all within a standard web browser. Additionally, the relaunched service is now Windows and Mac-friendly, and will also be available through Internet-connected televisions, starting with Sony Bravia TVs that are compatible with the company’s rather costly Bravia Internet Video Link device.
“For the first time, this is drop dead simple,” Bill Carr, Amazon’s vice president for digital media, tells the New York Times. “Our goal is to create an immersive experience where people can’t help but get caught up in how exciting it is to simply watch a movie right from Amazon.com with a click of the button.” Around 40,000 television episodes and movies are available, both rental and to-own, with the same pricing scheme as the original UnBox. Television episodes cost $1.99, movies range from $7.99 to $14.99, and movie rentals cost $3.99. Almost all of the big studios and television networks are on board, with the exception of Disney, where Apple CEO Steve Jobs is the largest shareholder. (We’re seeing a pattern here: Disney also snubbed Sony’s new video download store, launched earlier this week.)
Not only is Amazon utilizing streaming in order to deliver “instant” playback but it also means that content doesn’t have to be permanently stored on a user’s hard drive. As a result, Amazon is able to offer another potential benefit to customers: a virtual video library of previously purchased content, stored in the ‘cloud’ (on the company’s own servers) ready to be streamed as many times and to as many compatible devices as the user has access to. While this will initially consist of PCs running Mac OSX or Windows, along with select TVs from Sony, in the future this could extend to many different devices, either through specific partnerships like the one currently forged with Sony, or by utilizing browser-based standards or any other technology or protocol Amazon chooses to support.
“Our goal is to continue to establish partnerships with all companies who have a connected device” says Carr. “Creating this on-demand available-everywhere access to premium content is going to be very attractive to consumers.”
Additionally, since content isn’t stored permanently on a user’s hard drive, the studios’ concerns about piracy is less of an issue. And for consumers, the inconvenience caused by the use of copy-protection technology in the form of DRM becomes much less apparent.