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Unbox Too Restricted and Too Expensive? 185

Posted by Zonk
from the reaching-for-features dept.
abb_road writes "Businessweek takes a first look at Amazon's new video service and walks away unimpressed. Between the high cost of downloads, the sometimes-poor video quality and the restrictions required by movie studios, they're not predicting a huge hit. From the article: 'Amazon finally launched its long-awaited online video service on Sept. 7. But it's no sure thing that it will catch on with the masses. The service, called Amazon Unbox, offers downloads of movies and television shows, as well as digital movie rentals. But like all its rivals, it's shackled by a raft of viewing limitations imposed by movie studios.'"
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Unbox Too Restricted and Too Expensive?

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  • And...? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rendo (918276)
    What do you expect? The movie industry is full of greedy suits that will try and squeeze as much out of the consumer as possible before the consumer just flat out says no. It worked for the music industry, but I seriously doubt this will ever take off with the movie industry. It's far easier, and cheaper, to just torrent movies and get better quality videos from cams. That's right, I said it, cams.
    • Re:And...? (Score:4, Informative)

      by hpavc (129350) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:43PM (#16068062)
      At the price they want its not providing me a unique or value added service to warrant it. The roll out sucks, they still lack a delivery mechanism that makes it gee-wiz as well. I basically want my money back from the one purchase I made.

      If they had an itunes-like client I already used which could download at bittorrent or even segmented multi-part speeds. I would be all over it.
      • Re:And...? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by iamhassi (659463) on Friday September 08, 2006 @03:53PM (#16068559) Journal
        "If they had an itunes-like client I already used which could download at bittorrent or even segmented multi-part speeds. I would be all over it"

        Exactly. This sounds like iTunes all over again. For years there were sketchy mp3 downloading services charging outrageous prices for songs or free p2p programs battling with MPAA.

        Then Apple came along and changed everything. They found a way to sell mp3s at a price people were willing to pay and with the power of the iPod became the 800-lbs gorilla of the whole internet music provider service.

        I predict Apple will do the same thing again. It'd take very little effort for them to come out with a iTunes enabled DVD media player with hard drive for ~$199 that connects directly to your TV and has built-in wifi to connect to your existing broadband router that enables the downloading of full movies for a few bucks, or at least less than what Netflix and competitors charge (cheapest plan = $5.99/mo, 1 dvd at a time, limit of 2 a month). You can also transfer them to your iPod and watch them on the go.

        Might even be DVR capable, or that could be the $299 model ;) and recorded TV or movies could be torrented to other such players so you could download shows from other iTunes DVRs saving Apple bandwidth.

        This would be huge and carry Apple far beyond just a music provider, now they'd be in control of viewable media too, a new content provider, and with a direct broadband connection they could insert their own commericals at the beginning before playing movies, etc.

        Apple would be unstoppable.
        • Re:And...? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Firehed (942385) on Friday September 08, 2006 @06:42PM (#16069560) Homepage
          I'd say that Apple would absolutely love to do that. But at the end of the day, they still need to deal with whatever contracts the studios want, or else they have no content. Apple would love a flat $9.99 per movie with fairly liberal DRM (that's to say, unobtrustive, but still locks you into Apple hardware and software, as Fairplay does now). But the latest word is that the MPAA absolutely refuses to do a pay-to-own model, and won't take less than $14.99 for the newest films, or so was my impression of the soon-to-come iTunes Movie Store. As much as I hate iTunes for the DRM (well, moreso the DMCA for making it a worse offense than assaulting an officer or possessing child porn to break it), it's really managed to handle the entire digital music distribution thing extremely well. Sure, I prefer AllOfMP3 for a number of reasons, but if I'm going to pay for my music, I want all of the profits to go to the artist, at least within reason (Steve gets his distribtion costs back plus a couple cents, everything else to the artist and not a dime to the f'ing RIAA).

          In effect, my concern about mine and others' online rights as completely stopped me from getting my music legally. And, by and large, movies as well (and that's only because a 1080p projector and 50.1 surround is a bit out of my price range, not to mention how it's not too compatible with a college dorm). My father used Rhapsody some time ago (I think, one of those WMA ones), and the DRM made his player useless. He's not stupid when it comes to computers - he eventually found out that burning and reripping his songs would strip off the restrictions. And it was a massive pain in the ass. Guess what - he buys NO music online anymore. Mind you, this was before PlaysForSure, but everyone knows that device lock-in is bullshit, and the moment that you start to notice DRM, it's not working properly. I love my iPod and use it all the time for music, and almost always use iTunes when I'm at the computer. But I watched a 30-minute video on my iPod last night, and I came away with a sore wrist like never before.

          At least with audio, I just need to have speakers nearby, and have a standard 3.5mm jack. iPod-quality video really looks crappy on any decent-sized screen, and the notion of being forced to use iTunes or my iPod for iTVS(?) content is insane, especially with the absolutely horrible video playback capabilities of iTunes (the windows are completely counter-intuitive, not to mention slow to respond). While I'm sure that a video store would bring about iTunes v7, that doesn't mean it'll handle video playback any better. I HAVE to use QuickTime to watch movies in my iTunes library, just because the playback is so messed up within iTunes. Then, just the limited resolution and audio quality, not to mention a possible rentals-only method. Only the MPAA could be dumb enough to think that we'd pay just as much for a time-limited rental (and no late fees, it'll just dissapear) that you have to spend quite a while downloading, with only stereo audio and resolution that's probably half of what DVD has to offer. It's almost as if they're trying to prove to themselves that people aren't interested in digital distribution. My DVD-quality files are generally 2-2.5GB in size, which will take an insane amount of time to download over most home broadband connections.

          What's the point of all of this? Apple could easily pull off an extremely successful iTunes Video Store. They know how to do it, and have a pretty damn good idea of what people want. But they're being bound to restrictions forced upon them by the MPAA (no contract, no content, after all, so it's their way or the highway), which they probably know are going to really piss people off. Sure, Apple might strike a deal with Youtube that'll work with the parent's concept box (which wouldn't surprise me - Youtube has all rights over their content unless the uploader pulls it, and they of all companies know that people don't want to put up with stupid restrictions and just want cheap cont
        • If that theoretical box also supported free video podcasts and HD content, I'd be SO all over it.

          Of course, they already make something that does all that [apple.com], though it's a bit pricier than $200 (and there's no built-in tuner, though you can get addon tuners for it pretty cheaply now, including a rather nice miniature ATSC/ClearQAM HD tuner for $250ish).

  • Step 2, 3? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Apocalypse111 (597674) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:00PM (#16067762) Journal
    Looks like they have failed to successfully fill in the blank in Step 2, and will be unable to proceed to Step 3.

    So is this what YouTube would be like if they decided to play along with the MPAA and charge subscription fees?
  • Bears repeating... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Prometheus+Bob (755514) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:00PM (#16067767)
    More expensive than other legal methods (just buying the dvd used), with more limitations (can't backup, can't play in normal dvd players). I can't understand why it won't do well!?
    • Netflix! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by andrewman327 (635952)
      People fail to realize that Netflix is making money on what some would call an old-fashioned profit model: mail DVDs to people and they mail them back. They may spend millions and millions of dollars in postage (and impacted by postage hikes [seekingalpha.com], but they do not have these limitations. People also do not realize that YouTube is losing loads of money every month [economist.com]. Online video has a place, but it is not in replacing DVDs with DRM.
      • by The_Spud (632894)
        I read the linked article and the only proof offered for youtube losing tons of cash was this:

        "A rival estimates that YouTube is losing more than $500,000 a month."


        For all we know youtube could be making lots of money, not that likely admittedly but no one other than the u-tube people know.
        • by stupidfoo (836212)
          Actually, that's the lowest estimate I've seen. And youtube itself has acknowledged that it is somewhat struggling to find a good way to bring in more revenue. Their main source of money has been repeated rounds of funding.
        • by c_forq (924234)
          youtube has confirmed many times that they are losing money at an extremely rapid pace. Last I heard they were looking for more VP because they estimated their current pool was going to run out in two years. youtube will have to soon find a way to make money, or find a company willing to sponsor (or buy and operate at a loss) in a matter of years if it hopes to continue running.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by SquadBoy (167263)
        DVDs *are* DRMed. It's just been broken for so long that folks don't think about this. In fact it's an incredibly restrictive DRM. One wonders had DVD Jon not cracked this how well DVDs would be doing now.
        • by arminw (717974)
          ....One wonders had DVD Jon not cracked this how well DVDs would be doing now.......

          Not much different than it is. Outside of /. most people just buy or rent a DVD and pop it into their player or computer and hit the "Play" button. Watching a 2 hr or longer movie in a tiny screen is not very satisfying for most people.

          If Apple comes up with a video iPod which shows a good picture on a 27" or larger screen, at least on par with present DVDs, they will have a hit. That requires either a lot of storage or a re
    • o rly? (Score:3, Insightful)

      And the counter-argument:

      • More expensive than other legal methods (just buying the dvd used): well, it's not more expensive than buying on Amazon itself as it calculates the savings for you and displays them. Yes you could buy the DVD used but so what, the convenience is worth it for some - I don't plan evenings when I feel tired and want to watch some TV weeks in advance, it just happens. And when it does I want to watch some episodes of 24 right there and then, if I can. I'm willing to pay more than g

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by midknight32 (702825)

        With more limitations (can't backup, can't play in normal dvd players) - can't backup

        .... and? You couldn't backup DVDs for the first few years of their life either due to DRM and that didn't stop them taking over the world. I hypothesise that most people don't care; I know I never backed up any of my DVDs and I wouldn't care about backing up these movies either. I'd probably rent them instead. Don't play in normal DVD players ... yes this will have an impact and stop some people using the service. But

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DrXym (126579)
      I hold a stock in Amazon. Even with a financial incentive to support Amazon, I think the pricing and the conditions are just dumb, dumb, dumb. Basically we're talking about an extremely shitty rental service - too expensive and too restrictive. Why the hell would I want to spend $9.99 or more on a movie which probably sells for the same or less on a DVD? Why should I use their lousy online service at a price that they (or a competitor) would send me a disc that I owned forever with no restrictions? The ans
  • MPAA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by x-kaos (213378) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:01PM (#16067771)
    We knew this was the case, to much drm and not worth the money. What I fear is MPAA spin saying "Oh, well we tried to sell downloadable movies, but no one wanted them. People would rather pirate instead." I think they could work, just not this way.
    • Re:MPAA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pla (258480) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:09PM (#16067849) Journal
      What I fear is MPAA spin saying "Oh, well we tried to sell downloadable movies, but no one wanted them. People would rather pirate instead."

      Why? They've already bought draconian anti-fair-use laws that make the fines for "copyright violation" high enough to bankrupt most upper middle-class families, along with punishments for breaking DRM comparable to murder. Even if they go whining to the government, what more do you fear they'll get?

      They really can't get any more, with current technology. We have effectively "lost" as badly as we can, with only a few freedom fighters such as DVD Jon as the last holdouts. And the media cartels have only our growing hatred to show for it.
      • Re:MPAA (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:20PM (#16067913)
        I can seem to think of plenty that they might want:
        • Broadcast Flag
        • Analog Hole legislation
        • Broadcaster's copyright
        • Remote key revocation
        • ???
      • Re:MPAA (Score:5, Funny)

        by stunt_penguin (906223) on Friday September 08, 2006 @03:14PM (#16068283)
        The funny thing about it is that you can be fined a (manageable enough) couple of hundred bucks for endangering ( or at least increasing the risk to ) lives by driving too fast, but endanger a massive corporation's profit margins, and you get fined tens of thousands of dollars- it just doesn't make any sense..... but then I'm preaching to the converted here.

        • by ultranova (717540)

          The funny thing about it is that you can be fined a (manageable enough) couple of hundred bucks for endangering ( or at least increasing the risk to ) lives by driving too fast, but endanger a massive corporation's profit margins, and you get fined tens of thousands of dollars- it just doesn't make any sense.....

          Sure it does: the corporations make the law. Well, to be exact, they pay their employees in Senate to vote for it, but that's semantics. Anyway, there's plenty of human beings in the US, so the

      • These movies are locked to the latest DRM for WMV and WMA. The WMV and WMA players that Microsoft makes for Macintosh don't support the DRM component so you can't play them on anything but a windows machine.

        What I wonder is whether this DRM is in the OS or in the player itself. If it is in the Player will Wine or Crossover office be able to play the movies on Linux and Mac without having a copy of the operating system?

        One suspects that the long term trend, espeically with HDTV, is going to be DRM that flo
    • Re:MPAA (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DreamingReal (216288) <dreamingreal AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday September 08, 2006 @03:12PM (#16068273) Homepage
      I don't think the movie industry would be so disingenuous. At the end of the day, this is all about money. They live and breathe in fear of the faceless internet "pirate" and that fear is leading them to be their own worst enemies.

      Consider that most average users want a fair price and ease of use. DRM solutions eliminate the second want and the industry's greed eliminates the first want. Everyday that passes is a day where a potential customer will turn to bittorrent and filesharing for their movie needs. "The price is that much? Fine, I'll get it for free from Pirate Bay" or "I have to download another player, can't move it to my laptop, and need to buy it again when I reinstall Windows for the fifth time this year? Fine, I'll figure out how Azureus works and get it from there" could be typical reactions to these crappy online offerings. In the long-run, they are losing more money by turning away customers by not making this cheap and easy.

      All their bought-and-paid-for legislation and new DRM technologies won't change anything. They will never be able to win this war on the technological or litigious battlefields. They will only win this when they make it so easy that your grandma could use it and it wouldn't bankrupt her in the process.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jbreckman (917963)
      With the DRM, poorer quality, and extras missing, you actually get much less than if you bought the DVD. Therefore it should cost much less. It is as simple as that.

      Who would pay the same price (or near it) for less features?
  • Is anyone honesty surprised at this? I for one am not.
  • by raehl (609729) <raehl311 AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:05PM (#16067809) Homepage
    When your content is DVD-quality, S-Video cable is plenty sufficient for carrying the signal.
    • by dartboard (23261)
      As long as you don't have HDTV and your player doesn't do upsampling, you're probably right. But there's a big difference between the output of a S-video signal and a composite 720p or 1080i if your DVD player supports it. I would hope that Amazon's player has these capabilities.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by conigs (866121)

        Hate to nitpick, but I think you meant "component," not "composite." A composite cable is even worse thant S-Video, at least that separates the luminance and chrominance signals.

        And since we're talking about video cables, did you know that component video cables are not RGB on DVD players (and most video equipment)? They're actually Y/Pb/Pr, which is fun, crazy math time!

        Okay, I'm off my soap box now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pla (258480)
      When your content is DVD-quality, S-Video cable is plenty sufficient for carrying the signal.

      Correction - When you have an NTSC-quality TV, S-Video can provide as close to an optimal picture as you can get.

      You can't, however, do progressive-scan over Y/C... Meaning that most newer DVDs will look considerably better over component (Y/Pb/Pr) or even digital interconects (when going to a display of sufficient quality, of course).
      • by dfghjk (711126)
        DVD is also capable of higher chroma bandwidth than S-Video offers. Even with interlaced NTSC, component is better than S-Video.
    • Can someone explain what they meant about only being able to use S-Video with an MS Media Center PC? Don't Media Center PCs have DVI like every other computer in the world built in the last 3 years?
      • by aonaran (15651)
        DRMed videos won't play on the DVI connector. That would be a hole in the DRM protection.

        You need DVI with HDCP on both the computer and the monitor or HDMI to do digital transfer of the video. Most people with mediacenter PCs still don't have that kind of "secure" video setup.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Fulg (138866)

      When your content is DVD-quality, S-Video cable is plenty sufficient for carrying the signal.

      Perhaps on SDTV, but on an HD set, component cables make a fairly big difference on quality, and allow for HD modes. There is also that nice auto-widescreen detection, so no hunting for the TV remote when the extra content is in 4:3...

      Putting the whole quote in context:

      A Windows Media Center PC can be cabled to a TV, but only through a relatively low-resolution S-video line. "The last piece of the puzzle is the conn

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        .perhaps Mr. McInerney hasn't heard of DVI cables?

        Perhaps you haven't heard of DRM?

        Once a signal is DRM'd you can't output it over a digital signal unless all devices along that path support the encryption (in this case HDCP). HDCP graphics cards are as rare as hens teeth (manufacturers have been caught more than once claiming their cards are HDCP compliant when they weren't anything of the sort.. I'll believe there's an HDCP compliant card when I see proof that it's recognised as such by vista.. which bt
    • by jonnythan (79727)
      Weird that you say that, considering you can get seriously higher quality out of a DVD using component cables from a progressive scan DVD player outputting 480p.
  • by creimer (824291) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:06PM (#16067817) Homepage
    Not Mac compatible. No good. I'll wait for Apple. It'll be a more elegant solution anyway.
    • by Yvan256 (722131)
      We won't have to wait for long anyway. It's Showtime on the 12th!
      • by aonaran (15651)
        You must live in the states. I'm still waiting for something other than music videos trailers and Pixar shorts to be downloadable from iTunes' Canadian store.
        I once wanted to buy a copy of a Lost episode I missed and would have been quite happy to shell out 1.99 for the lowres version on iTunes, but they wouldn't let me. (at least not without creating a Fake identity with a US address and US issued credit card) ...so my only choice was to get on a torrent site and download it.

    • > I'll wait for Apple. It'll be a more elegant solution anyway.

      Of course. It'll feature brushed metal and light-gray to white gradients.
  • by Hap76 (995519)
    Pay DVD prices for downloaded movies (for which you pay the shipping while not getting the features of the DVD) which you can only use on two computers, which can taken away at any time without recourse, to which can be added ads and other "features" you don't want while giving features which you may want but can't keep? What a bargain.

    Why do the movie studios think I actually want this? Why don't they realize that if they don't allow their customers to use their product as they wish (without redistributin
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:11PM (#16067865) Journal
    ...but I can't watch it on my TV.

    I get to watch it on my monitor, which is fairly small.
    In my office, where there's room for one, maybe two people.
    On an uncomfortable chair instead of my couch.
    And I get to pay more than an excellent condition DVD off of ebay, often as much or more than the DVD from Amazon, and probably more than the WalMart B&M down the road.

    In return I get to avoid waiting the 2 days for shipping (which I get "free" from Amazon Prime), or driving the 4 miles to a local store.

    I'm sorry, was there something I was supposed to enjoy about this transaction?
    • I'm sorry, was there something I was supposed to enjoy about this transaction?
      You're not the target market of this release. Unboxed is for masochists only, it's the test market -- and they are sure to enjoy it. You'll have to wait release 2.0, which is currently under the working title "Unchained." They're still working out the kinks left from taking out the part where they walk on you while wearing stiletto heels.
    • by truthsearch (249536) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:39PM (#16068038) Homepage Journal
      That's about right. I think they also want you to buy a more comfortable office chair [amazon.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Also, you can't dump this movie on eBay when you get sick of it like you can with a regular DVD. You should think of this as adding $5 to $10 to the cost of the download because a real DVD has a resale value.
      • Actually, that's exactly how I "rent" movies. I buy them occasionally, sometimes in a bunch from CH if I haven't signed up in a while, and usually average less than $10/disc including shipping (much less with CH). They go in my jukebox, and I eventually watch them, though it may take up to 2 years for that to happen. If I like it, I keep it. If I don't, it gets resold on ebay or amazon mktplace, often for between $8-$10 net of fees. It's cheaper than netflix, I'm (almost) never without a new movie, and I g
        • by ultranova (717540)

          If I don't, it gets resold on ebay or amazon mktplace, often for between $8-$10 net of fees. It's cheaper than netflix, I'm (almost) never without a new movie, and I get to keep a copy of everything I like.

          In other words, you allow people to get used DVD's from you instead of making each watcher buy one directly from the maker, therefore lessening the demand for DVD's and causing the artist to starve. Shame on you !

          Seriously, getting rid of second-hand market is one of the main reasons for DRM. It's a

  • No Subtitles? (Score:5, Informative)

    by methangel (191461) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:13PM (#16067874)
    I'm surprised nobody mentioned this. As a hearing impaired person, I rely on subtitles extensively. Basically, you don't even get the basic "features" of the DVD, or even regular cable show.

    I'll stick with my Tivo and Giganews subscription, thank you very much.
  • ...so I'll pass on this one. Just like I'll pass on Blu-ray and HD-DVD (unless pirated). Dignity > watching the latest movie.

    If they offered files for purchase, I'd happily buy them. But I don't like streaming crap, digital restrictions management crap, propietary codecs and formats crap, etc. If I buy something, I must be getting a simple [b]octet-stream[/b]. No magic, no "final format", no "copy protections", no crap. That's the only format I accept.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:22PM (#16067933) Homepage
    I don't get at all. Why are companies so bent on copying failure instead of success?

    DIVX disks played on ordinary DVD players, were time-limited, and cost less than straight DVDs. And failed.

    FlexPlay disks played on ordinary DVD players, were time-limited, cost less than straight DVDs, and failed.

    Amazon Unbox WON'T play on ordinary DVD player, won't play on my almost-spiffy almost-new Mac Mini, won't play on my wife's PC (Windows 98), wouldn't have played on the Hewlett-Packard PC my daughter's family uses (WIndows 2000 Home Edition) before it crapped out a few months ago, won't play on the spiffy new Mac Mini she replaced it with, apparently won't play on any portable video device... ...is time-limited, and costs about the same as straight DVDs.

    And up to now I thought Jeff Bezos was a smart guy.
    • DIVX disks played on ordinary DVD players, were time-limited, and cost less than straight DVDs. And failed.

      But DVDs which were protected from being "backed up" *rolls eyes* didn't fail. So, I don't see the causation you're trying to imply from correlation.

      Amazon Unbox WON'T play on DVD player ... Mac .... portable player

      Many people already watch TV or movies on a computer, Mac is still an insignificant part of the market (sorry, that's what the figures say ...), and who wants to watch a movie on a de

      • by gumbo (88087)
        Many people already watch TV or movies on a computer

        But I doubt it's anywhere near enough people to market a whole service to them.

        who wants to watch a movie on a device with a tiny screen anyway?

        Probably the same people who keep buying TV shows from iTunes, which seems to be doing very well. I don't understand the appeal either, but it seems like they're out there.

        • who wants to watch a movie on a device with a tiny screen anyway?

          I do. I am one of those crazy people who do that, and here is a few reasons why.

          • I travel and work a lot. I miss too many shows that I enjoy because of it.
          • I have the freedom to watch it when, and where I want. When I am traveling, I have my laptop with me so thats where I watch 90% of my TV.
          • I don't own a TV. For the low amount of time I watch it, and due to space reasons. I don't need one. I would rather have a 23" or 30" screen that I ca
      • by malkavian (9512)
        DVD succeeded because of it's advantages over the existing media of the day. I.e. Video Tape.
        The increase in both video and, most especially, audio quality was astounding.
        From a fuzzy, often degraded video source with, at best stereo, to a crisp, reliable video source with 5.1 encoding that was crystal clear.
        The light amount of copy protect on the DVD wasn't enough to prevent the market moving across to it, because of the benefits.

        Currently (and it has been for quite some time now) it is possible for even
        • DVD succeeded because of it's advantages over the existing media of the day. I.e. Video Tape.

          Right, but so does internet based video-on-demand. Choose from a large catalogue and have it there very quickly (if you stream it). It's more convenient than messing around with easily scratched disks. It's the same argument as online music store vs CDs. Whether Amazon actually give you all the advantages I don't know. But the potential is there.

          The light amount of copy protect on the DVD wasn't enough to prev

          • by asuffield (111848)

            If CSS had been just a little bit stronger it would have lasted far, far longer.

            No, people would just have been using copies of keys that had been extracted from 'official' DVD players. That's been done, and I think it actually predates DeCSS. We use libdvdcss instead because it's probably legal in most of the world (except the US and its vassals, like AU).

            (The media hoarders claim that the decryption keys are copyrighted, and prosecuted some people who used copies of keys in commercial products - the sanit

    • When Apple does it through iTMS they will be hailed as a success, though, despite having basically the same story. Sure they will support your mac minis but those machines constitute and insignificant portion of the market. The number of systems each will support will be essentially the same, and if your household had any PCs as modern as your underpowered minis you wouldn't be having such a problem.
      • by jZnat (793348) *
        iTunes isn't restricted to just Windows XP, right? It therefore automatically just gained almost the entire theoretical market (iTunes works in WINE by the way).
        • by dfghjk (711126)
          How generous of Apple to make iTunes work in WINE. Perhaps WMP does as well. Your point?

          The difference between Windows and Windows+Mac is a couple percentage points of marketshare. Mac users who will buy DRMed content are likely to use iTMS in any case. Having WMV files not play on Mac is a loss of virtually no customers.
    • And up to now I thought Jeff Bezos was a smart guy.

      The problem is copyright law, not individual idiocy (although that contributes greatly to the current media problem). Modern copyright laws are like a shackles binding slaves in a sinking galley. They keep trying to row their oars harder and harder -- because that's all they know how to do -- but the ship keeps sinking because it's the wrong solution to an existing problem.

      It's obvious that intellectual property laws are severely hampering innovation an

    • (WIndows 2000 Home Edition) ...what? I presume you mean XP Home, or Win2K Professional. Win2K Home doesn't actually exist :)
      • by mdfst13 (664665)
        "(WIndows 2000 Home Edition) ...what? I presume you mean XP Home, or Win2K Professional."

        More likely WinMe (Millenium edition). It was the home version of Windows released in 2000. Therefore it was Win 2000 Home. Completely wrong of course, WinMe was actually the last Window built on the 9x/Dos platform (rather than the NT/2000/XP platform), but it's still what people say.

        Microsoft added to the confusion in that what they wanted to release in 2000 was what later became WinXP. They weren't able to finish
    • "And up to now I thought Jeff Bezos was a smart guy."

      If only there was evidence of this.

      Amazon is only evidence of his connections with people who have money.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:24PM (#16067939)
    Anyone else notice that Business Week just called DRM by its more appropriate name:
    Digital Rights Restrictions

    I don't go in for what most of the whiney slashbot crowd does, but this one brings some glee to my cold little heart that a fairly popular magazine is helping to relabel DRM appropriately. I don't care what movie studios do to their products, but it offends me as a consumer when they try to lock my purchases up and tell me what to do with them after I own them.

    I don't support the dirty theives that are too cheap to pay for music and movies, but it's also not my problem and if you're going to make me suffer because they're scumballs, I'm not going to buy your stuff either. Not only will the jobless wonders keep stealing from you, I'll just stop buying on top of it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think you fail to get the full purpose of DRM. It isn't just to stop piracy. In fact, one could argue that it really doesn't stop it at all. One of the biggest benefits to the studios is that people are forced to spend more money on things that shouldn't cost extra. Want to watch that movie you just downloaded to your home entertainment PC on your portable video player? It'll cost you extra. Want to take the movie over to a friend's house for a dinner and movie party? No can do. Your friend will h
  • Will it be interesting enough for some enterprising Dvd-Jon type person come up with a crack for their DRM.

    Once cracked, THEN you could burn DVD's, and move the media to use as you see fit...

    Then it would be a worthwhile way to purchase media IMHO. Which of course the media producing companies will have no part it.
    • by gumbo (88087)
      Once cracked, THEN you could burn DVD's, and move the media to use as you see fit... Then it would be a worthwhile way to purchase media IMHO.

      I disagree. I still think it would be pretty worthless.

      If I can pay the same price for the DVD, getting 5.1 sound and extras in the process, I'm not going to pay for the download even if I have the option of losing video quality and wasting time by re-encoding it to MPEG2 and burning it to DVD.

  • Hmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:31PM (#16067994) Journal
    I have enough technology at work that I don't need much of it at home, so maybe I'm out of touch with what "the masses" have.

    But are there really a significant number of people with the computer-large screen integration to make this program useful? The article brings that point in at the end, but I wonder how much overlap there is between the Media Center crowd and the non-P2P'ing-everything-anyway crowd.

  • I got worked up enough to write up a rant about Unbox's pricing and lack of features [fakerake.com] (come on, who wants to watch V For Vendetta without 5.1 sound?) before seeing that I was late to the bash-Unbox party. Oops.

    If it's not just me, and everyone's first reaction is "oh my god, how much does this idea suck?" you really have to wonder about their motivation, and you start putting more weight into the theories that this is so the studios and MPAA can say "see, people just don't want to pay for movie downloads.

  • Moo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chacham (981) * on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:40PM (#16068045) Homepage Journal
    The nice thing is, they did it. Even if it fails, someone else will try again. Eventually it will work.

    It's simple. People want to download movies. Paying for it is not the issue, as many people will say. It's just plain old availibility.

    The companies would love it if noone could watch a movie outside of a theatre, and would only sell long dead movies. The people think theatre's are a nice experience, but that is added on top of viewing the movie itself. And, if you don't like the theatre, or going to a theatre is cumbersome or not feasable, or even watching the entire movie in one shot is not desirable, the movie needs to be availible elsewhere. Also, people are willing to pay a premium to watch it the first time, but not the second, third, or more. Being many people who download movies have already seen it in the theatre, charging a premium at home would alienate that subset of potential buyers.

    That's where this service comes in. They set up a mini-theatre in your house with some control (although, they own the process and restrict its use). This is what people don't like. But, it also means its happening. For Amazon to get this far, means that the industry recognizes the need. It's a large step, though perhaps not large enough for the consumers. The point is, it will happen. Eventually. And the more the industry holds back, the more piracy will pound them on the side.

    So be happy. The child has taken his first step.
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Friday September 08, 2006 @02:41PM (#16068047) Journal
    Arguments about price and DRM limitations aside for a moment, it occurs to me that Internet-based movie downloads won't really take off unless there's a piece of hardware accompanying the thing. Tivo, for example, should have partnered up with Amazon or someone else doing this and said "Ok - we'll send down a free firmware upgrade to all of our users, and then our boxes will be able to browse your movie catalog and order up content on-screen, saving it to the hard drive in the unit. Meanwhile, the user will be free to watch existing content while it downloads in the background."

    The overall business model works a lot better for music downloads, because A) They're smaller and take a lot less time to download, B) Every single user of a portable digital music player has to learn to sync it with a PC in order to load it up with music, so a PC is a logical "starting point" for receiving that type of content, and C) Many more people are comfortable burning a standards-compliant audio CD from a PC for use in their home or car stereo than are comfortable burning DVD movie content that plays properly on their stand-alone players.

    If it was really commonplace for people to use their computer as a media center attached to a TV and surround sound stereo receiver, then this might go over a little bit better. But it's not! Half the people buying new computers with "Windows Media Center edition" preloaded on them don't even use the TV playback and recording capabilities of it. They just went with it because the whole bundle was on sale....
    • it occurs to me that Internet-based movie downloads won't really take off unless there's a piece of hardware accompanying the thing. Tivo, for example, should have partnered up with Amazon or someone else doing this and said "Ok - we'll send down a free firmware upgrade to all of our users, and then our boxes will be able to browse your movie catalog and order up content on-screen, saving it to the hard drive in the unit. Meanwhile, the user will be free to watch existing content while it downloads in the b
  • by DrXym (126579) on Friday September 08, 2006 @04:03PM (#16068627)
    Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow for $13.99 is a positive bargain!
  • Unbox? Ungood.

    Doubleplus ungood.
  • Tried ST TOS. The Man Trap
    Audio is 48khz 6 channel.
  • Just a note that download to computer is old news in a lot of markets.

    I have a friend who has been doing various VoD offerings for the last 7 years or so in Taiwan. The Chinese/Taiwanese distribution companies have an implicit understanding that when they release product, it will be pirated, and there is not much they can do about that. They go on to focus on boring stuff like maximizing revenue from their product.

    When my friend pitches the idea of offering movies to Chinese stuidos using VoD over the Int
  • I certainly won't be buying any video that I can't store on a DVD (whether with or without additional processing) and play on my DVD player. That would be like buying music that I can't write to a CD and play in my car.

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