Amazon's Video Downloads About As Me Too (Read: Not Interesting) As You Can Get

from the disappointing dept

It’s no secret that Amazon has been preparing its own video download store, and with most people believing that Apple is going to announce their own offering early next week, it looks like Amazon tried to jump ahead in line by announcing its own offering today. Unfortunately, the offering is about as “me too” as you can imagine. It’s got all the problems of just about every other video download offering out there. It only works on Windows. Copy protection galore. Limited usage. Relatively high prices compared to alternatives. Rather than making the content portable, you basically get to download two files: one that must stay on the computer you downloaded it on, and one that can be transferred to an approved (i.e., has Windows media copy protection) mobile device. You can burn the movie to a DVD… but it’s of almost no additional value, since that DVD will only play on the computer you downloaded the movie to. While it’s quite likely that the Hollywood folks put many of these restrictions on Amazon, it’s a disappointing service. There’s nothing new here and nothing compelling. Amazon has shown in the past that it understands a lot about making the online shopping experience work well for consumers. It’s too bad they were unable to transfer that knowhow to video downloads. Hopefully it’s a temporary situation that they’ll be able to improve over time.

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Comments on “Amazon's Video Downloads About As Me Too (Read: Not Interesting) As You Can Get”

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md says:

Apple is the closest to freedom? Are you kidding?

Apple is far from the “closest” to freedom. Apple’s DRM content only plays on Apple-approved software and devices and works on content that Apple has licensed.

At least Microsoft licenses their DRM to other manufacturers and content providers. They also give the content providers (ha!) the freedom to choose the severity of the DRM “protection”.

Robert Thille (user link) says:

Re: Apple is the closest to freedom? Are you kiddi

Yeah, Apple sells songs with DRM, but I can take those songs and transfer them to other formats, sans DRM, with no further loss of quality. Sure, I get size bloat, but I can take Apple’s song, burn it to a CD then rip it to FLAC and have a no-quality-lost, non-DRM copy of the song. What’s so bad about that?

Edouard says:

Re: Apple is the closest to freedom? Are you kiddi

But you can play Apple’s DRM on Windows! Microsoft do not provide any MediaPlayer on MAC OS which is able to read its DRM. I’m a French MAC OS user and there is NO VoD services for me. I’ve to keep using P2P.
Apple is a little bit more closest to freedom than Microsoft and its DRM… From a user side anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

“…rather than making the content portable you basically get to download two versions…” and that’s a bad thing?? One version is optimized for the desktop and looks waaay better than the fodder served up on I-Tunes, and the other works great on my Creative ZEN Vision:M. One happy customer here, thanks.


Trey says:

Re: Re:

Happy that you can’t play it on your TV?

Honestly, Apple’s “free to burn then re-rip, we don’t care” policy is the best thing you can have, really. Major label’s won’t even listen to you without having DRM being a requirement – that’s just a business fact. So leave a back door open, keep the consumers happy!

Omar says:

“Hey Mike, there never going to get it…”

I work for Amazon, the Unbox group gets it. Amazon has no leverage in this equation, it’s all studios/MSFT dictating the terms. Believe me, Amazon doesn’t want to offer a service that 1) isn’t really any cheaper than buying a DVD 2) doesn’t work on a lot of computers/devices and 3) isn’t simple to use. It’s just that Amazon’s the only player in the equation that wants those things.

Trikein says:

Touch of Gold.

Hmm, well how about this for a business fact, Major business labels won’t exist soon if they keep trying to “squeeze the clay”. I just don’t get why they think that people having free use of the products they buy, within certain common sense parameters, will lose them money. You could copy a tape a hundred times and sell it on the street back in the day, hell, maybe Metal/Punk/Electronica wouldn’t exist if not for that fact. And what about VHS? Did not Hollywood cry their hearts out when they came out? Saying it was going to ruin everything? And did it? No. Both the music Industry and Hollywood had record profit decades. Why? Because necessity prompted them to embrace the technology and use it for the good of the customer and their pocketbooks. But now they are kings trapped within their castles, and they must protect their gold. They have lost touch with reality, and if they don’t change, will soon learn society, like nature, has no room for things that can evolve. Good day.

Lateral Thinking says:

Different forlks different strokes

We can all go to a video rental store and rent a DVD for the night, to watch it at home.. How many people actually bother going through the trouble of ripping it, cracking it etc.. in order to copy it?

We can all go to cinema to watch a movie. How many people actually bother going through the trouble of brining a camera in order to copy it?

In the world we live it’s perfectly normal to pay for video screening, and it has been like that for a very long time.

My girfriend’s father (age 73) asked me for help with buying music from Apple iTunes service, because he couldn’t find that music on CD in shops. I explained to him how it works, he got out his credit card, and now he’s a very happy man that he’s finally found what he was looking for. This was all done in 15 mins.

In some people’s opinion here I should have done the following – install some bit torrent software on his machine, then WinRAR, VLC media player, DivX etc.. Then teach him how to search for stuff he wants, how to download it, where to find the downloaded file, then how to uncompress it, then how to get the password from the net, in order to decompress the files.. In the process his PC would probably collect tons of spyware and adware, so I’d need to teach him how to protect himself from that, then ultimately explain why the content he downloaded actually isn’t what he wanted, what it appeared to be, but recording of some very bad demo band..

I’m trying to say that a lot of people who aren’t “techies” use computers too. I believe they are also target market for Amazon, maybe even more so than us who post out comments here 🙂

Ben Robinson says:

Re: Different forlks different strokes

No No No No you are completely missing the point. The point is that there are many people like your girlfiends father, that just want to go to a website like iTunes put in their credit card details and download the music, quick simple and risk free. So why is DRM nessesary at all, for those that want to get the content for free they can but it is a pain for all the reasons you outline. For those that have neither the expertise nor the inclination to isntall and set uo BitTorrent etc then DRM only serves to make the content less valuable and harder to use.

Sell DRM free content, piracy will not increase, interroperability problems will be solved and everyone will be happier.

Random Joe says:

Re: Different forlks different strokes

Well then your father is out of luck because Unbox is damn difficult to use and understand.

The reality is that torrents de-value content. Meaning, the reason the studios want to protect everything is because they are not happy about their product be worth less today than what it was yesterday. It is all for nothing, though, because they will eventually accept this fact and move on. In the meantime, though, we consumers have to put up with the crappy DRM implementations…

Pingspike says:

yeah but no but..

(rediculus example follows):
Thats like building a space ship, but (for whatever reason) it isnt allowed above a certain height. You can have your ship, build it, fly it, but not too high. In this case a SPACE ship which cant go to SPACE. kinda defeats the point doesnt it ?

Like I buy that movie. its on dvd… I just cant play it on my tv. ever. wtf is the point in that ?! I can have my entertainment, im just not allowed to be entertained by it o.0?
Yes Amazon didnt cause it, but they agreed to it out of greed, to try make money. Even though (if the chap above is right) they can plainly see its the most flawed argument/point/business plan/thought ever!
Amazon = idiots buying into this stupid idea
DRM ppl = assholes, every one.
MPAA etc.= bite me, long live bittorrents. wankers.

/love 😛

10layers (user link) says:

Spot on!

I believe 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. 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?

On the positive side, Amazon is launching with an impressive array of content. Over 1,000 movies are available from Warner Bros., NBC Universal, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and other content providers. Will be interesting to see if Apple will/can match this.

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

Anonymous Coward says:

I tried Unbox and bought a short video (free from $2 instant rebate) and I’m glad it was free, it doesn’t even work! When I try to login I get “login failed” or “could not connect to server”. There is nothing in the help file or on Amazon about this. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, maybe I’m not but what I do know is that it’s not working and until it does work it is crap.

Like Hello!!?!?! says:

OK…it most likely has been said already but here we go….

1) make a better mouse trap and we will design a better mouse

Hollywood and all the Fat Cat Execs can spead all their Millions of Dollars to ‘Copy Protect’ everything they can try to but….IT WON’T WORK! Tell us we can’t do something and we will prove you wrong. Go ahead all you rich folks making millions off media…there is millions of ‘hackers and crackers’ just waiting for a new riddle to crack.

Give us the media or make the price for it so LOW that trying to crack the copy protection would not be worth the time. Look at it like this…at least you are getting some money versuses getting none.

$1 a movie….1 million downloads…you figure it out. I bet for $1 that no one will waste their time to crack protection.

Just think about it…

chip says:

Pirating is just payback for getting ripped off

They (the studios and record companies) keep forgetting that their customers aren’t stupid. As long as a movie’s or album’s price is wildly out of synch with its production cost people will pirate them.

Back when pre-recorded VHS tapes were priced over $100 each, it was worth the cost of buying a second VCR and pirating a tape. When the price dropped to under $20 it wasn’t. The studios sold many times more movies for $15 than they ever did for $100 so in the long run they made out like bandits.

The situation with CDs and DVDs is much the same. One good track and eight blah ones for $15, I don’t think so. Sure the record companies lost money when Napster and co hit the scene. Get a clue people, there was a recession going on. Everybody lost money. The recession cleared up and — guess what — record sales are back up too.

The producers need to lower the price until the consumer doesn’t feel like he’s getting bent over everytime he walks into a store. — A big part of the rationalization for pirating is feeling cheated. People aren’t natural thieves, but they don’t like getting ripped off either, and they will seek retribution, hence pirating. — Since the unit production cost for discs is even less than with VHS tapes, the volume will make up for the lower unit price.

Cleverboy (user link) says:

That Loud Noise is Apple Sucking the Air out of th

“Honestly, Apple’s “free to burn then re-rip, we don’t care” policy is the best thing you can have, really. Major label’s won’t even listen to you without having DRM” – Trey

Rock on, Trey. People sneer at Apple and imply that burning and then re-ripping is somehow some hockey violation Apple frowns on. Sure, Apple seems set on making sure iTunes doesn’t work with virtual CD schemes (where ur burning to a special file on your HD pretending its a CD), but for the most part, WYSIWYG. Burn and rip your way to another platform all you like, they don’t care. Its about derrance not prevention. –Microsoft on the other hand lets its licensees turn on and off things like “CD burning” for some files and not for others. I can’t see myself going for a platform like that… sorry (for those who think “PlaysForSure”=”Freedom”).

Steve Jobs went for “purchase to own” over “subscribe and bind” for just that reason. I mean, I’m amused that I have a wi-fi network and through iTunes sharing, I can play movies/music from my Mac collection through my PC’s iTunes interface. Frickin’ rocks is what it does.

DRM critics seem to think digital rights management just popped up out of no where in the last couple of years. I’m no angel. I remember the day I realized my CD copy of Jedi Knight wouldn’t work. Or way back when my backup of “Leander” or “Hybris” on my Amiga wouldn’t play like the original floppy would. I just shrugged my shoulders and took good care of my media. These days, music and movies are digital, and now due to the ease of copying and transmitting digital data over the Internet, the same issues of copy-protection legitimately come into play. Have software vendors given up on “serial numbers” just because hackers have created patches and serial generators? No. DRM won’t stop either.

But, PlaysForSure is a pretty bearish situation that doesn’t appeal to me at all. Movies or music… Windows ONLY is not cool. I’m pretty sure given the open nature of PlaysForSure, it will remain much more easier to hack around than FairPlay.

“Look at it like this…at least you are getting some money versuses getting none.” – Like Hello!!?!?!

Ha ha ha. That’s so fucked up. Create content for me, and sell it to me dirt cheap or I’ll rob you. that’s just so fucked up.

Jerry Armage (user link) says:

The Truth (massive rant for the clueful)

I not only pirate movies but I actually pay a premium to the facillitators. I do this because I want the content when I want it, how I want it. I am entirely amoral and do not give a crap that I’m stealing from the movie studios.

The reason I don’t want DRM isn’t so I can copy it around and put it on the internet or sell it – it’s because I enjoy being able to manipulate the media in any fashion I desire (i.e. make a DVD or put it into a Matroska) and be assured of interoperbility between the devices. I don’t care a whit if the movie studios think they should be able to dictate I have to buy a Microsoft Zune – while they try and cripple my usage I will just pirate your movies and you will never be able to stop me.

Further, I entirely dislike the movie studios and television companies releasing their movies in a staggered fashion so I wouldn’t otherwise get to enjoy the things I read everyone talking about on the internet from the US where everything is released first.

While these two situations exist I will pirate and not only that, I will pay people who make it easier for me to pirate – even though I’m purely a consumer and will not make any financial gain from my piracy – I won’t even share any of it with anyone else on the internet.

Now, if the movie studios actually LISTENED to people like me, intelligent, affluent casual pirates who “steal” purely to consume the product and are WILLING to PAY for the product so long as it’s delivered in the same versatile format I can get when I pay a pirate – they’d see an increase in sales amongst some of the people who prop up the serious players in piracy.

We ARE the GENUINE LOST SALES. Leave the STUDENT and unemployed BUMS alone – they will never pay for your stuff because they CANNOT afford to PAY. They are NOT lost sales, but people like me are.

If I buy a stolen car radio the wires are generally cut, it might show slight visible damage and probably has the brackets missing. If I buy a car that was stolen from a show room – it will be exactly the same as a new car. Online medis is the ONLY ITEM where the STOLEN VERSION is BETTER QUALITY than the LEGAL equivilent. I’m SHOCKED the movie studios don’t get this. Offer a SERVICE on PAR with the PIRACY enablers (naming no names) and YOU will GET my MONEY instead.

Oh, and to the argument that stealing movies is the same as shop-lifting or stealing car radios oh please – did you really manage to convince yourself that was true? Perhaps on the basis that you have a loss since you would have gained if that person didn’t make a copy. From what I know (and I know an awful lot about piracy) this is true perhaps less than 1 in 100 downloads for movies and 1 in 1000 for songs with common people. Also – even in the case you DID lose a sale you didn’t LOSE you just didn’t GAIN. If someone stole your car radio you’d not only have LOST a car radio (which you already had in the past) you would now have to go and buy another one if you wanted a car radio. This is a highly negative personal emotional experience and not in any way related to you not gaining any of my money which you may otherwise have done.

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