03. 16. 2007
Amazon Unbox on the Tivo
Charlie from (occasionally inappropriate) Gizmodo has taken a look at Amazon Unbox on the Tivo. On demand downloaded video has been a holy grail for the technology on-demand generation, and many have been bootlegging videos because the service wasn't available in the marketplace. Anne Sweeney is trying to convince the major players of that point, and those views qualify her as the smartest woman in Hollywood. Tivo and Amazon are hoping to grab the early adopter market share before AppleTV and iTunes roll out an unstoppable juggernaut of a video service.
The system is pretty simple. After signing up for UnBox, purchasing a movie is as simple as buying a DVD online. Downloads automatically begin after purchase, and each feature film runs from 1.5 to 2.5 gigabytes. This isn't instantaneous technology since movie download time is roughly six hours on a five meg connection. Amazon runs a media library storing a record of purchases so even if they're deleted from the Tivo they can be redownloaded later. Purchases are licensed for concurrent download to either two Tivos or PCs and two mobile devices. Movie purchases run the gamut from $5 (direct to video) to $15 (new Hollywood releases), and TV shows are mostly in the $2 per episode range.
Rental movies work a little differently. Renting a $4 video from Amazon Unbox makes it available on the Tivo for thirty days. However: starting to play that video triggers a countdown timer that will delete the movie twenty-four hours later. There's the window - 24 hours. That's not very convenient for my jetset on-demand lifestyle and I have to say "shame on you" to anyone that tries to cripple my purchases (iTunes included). There's no price discount for buying a digital copy of the movie, and the rental system is also highly inconvenient. Until media companies understand what it is that I want in a product I'm going to stick with NetFlix for rentals, and hard copies for purchases.