Say goodbye (and good riddance) to Amazon Unbox and say hello (and welcome) to Amazon Video on Demand.
Amazon launched its new video streaming service Thursday. After a quick downloading and viewing of the TV show “Eureka,” we say Amazon Video on Demand is a worthy contender to Apple’s iTunes.
For one, Amazon’s new video service works where Unbox failed — it plays on Macs. And, another plus, the video starts steaming instantly. A big improvement over the boxy Unbox.
Like Apple’s iTunes, Amazon Video on Demand will offer rentals for $3 to $4 and movie purchases for $10-$15. Most TV episodes are $2 each, with season passes available at a small discount.
A big advantage Amazon Video on Demand has over iTunes is that it offers NBC content, some of which is available free on Hulu, the joint venture between NBC and Fox. The VOD content, however, does not have commercials and is more consistently available, depending on the show.
Another semi-advantage Amazon Video on Demand has over iTunes is that content will play on some Sony TVs and TiVo DVRs, as well as on Windows Media Center PCs and Microsoft’s Xbox. iTunes TV shows and movies only play on Apple devices like the iPhone, iPod touch, iPod with video, and the AppleTV.
Of course, that advantage is also a disadvantage for the millions who own those Apple devices. Another downer is that Amazon Video on Demand lacks HD content, a deal-breaker for many living rooms and home theater aficionados.
The question is this: Does Amazon Video on Demand have enough sizzle to rock the video side of the iTunes Store? Maybe, maybe not. We give it a decent shot, however, as video on iTunes hasn’t dominated like music on iTunes.
Amazon’s music store, MP3, has steadily moved up the ladder to become one of the top online downloading services, but it’s far from unseating iTunes from its lofty perch.
Video is a different story. As it stands today, Amazon Video on Demand isn’t enough to rewrite the rules, rerouting viewers from physical disks to online downloading. But Amazon’s presence — and its consumer muscle and brand — is certainly enough to keep the video streaming business model moving forward and give iTunes a run for its customers.