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Downloadable Movies from Amazon? 71

StrongGlad writes "Screenshots of what could be an video store in the making surfaced Friday on the Web. Alan Taylor, who claims to have worked for the online retailer more than two years ago, said he discovered the screenshots while poking around an area of used by developers. The screenshots can be seen on The pictures show a service called 'Unbox Video' that offers first time users a free TV show or $1.99 off the first movie they download. Instructions are given for downloading the player and buying movies and video that can be played on a PC, TV or portable media player. has declined to comment."
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Downloadable Movies from Amazon?

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  • Great.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zyl0x ( 987342 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @11:51AM (#15940733)
    Now all we need are reliable ISPs so we don't have to spend 12 hours downloading each movie.
    • Re:Great.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by RipperMortis ( 886995 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @12:05PM (#15940780)
      12 hours?? Why, it only takes me a half hour to download a 700mb rip of a movie... Uhm, I mean that's probably how long it would take *Cough* if I were ever to do....uh. (backs slowly out of the room)
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Personally, I don't see having to download for 12 hours as such a bad thing if the company is smart about it. If you're paying about as much as if you rent a movie, and you can download a movie before it is released (suppose you download a movie and when it is released you get the 'key' to decode the movie), then you really just have to do a little planning on what you will want to watch; I don't think that it would be too much trouble to (about once a month) go online and "order" the movies you would want
    • Re:Great.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hey ( 83763 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @12:53PM (#15940944) Journal
      They could use BitTorrent.
      • by Skidge ( 316075 ) *
        Or it may be streaming. Though, you may need to give it a nice head start if you don't enjoy interludes of "Buffering..."
    • That's why ISPs are switching to Fiber Optics.
  • Bezos says cities will have to be rebuilt to accommodate this new concept of "downloading" "movies". This changes everything.
    • Ah, now this'll never work, a more sensible option would be a fleet of dvd delivery boys on Segways. Smell the future Jeffrey.
  • apple (Score:5, Interesting)

    by minus_273 ( 174041 ) <> on Saturday August 19, 2006 @11:58AM (#15940756) Journal
    I wonder what this means for the apple movie store..

  • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <> on Saturday August 19, 2006 @12:01PM (#15940766) Journal
    The average hour long TV show can now be downloaded for 1.99. This is fairly reasonable, and I only wish 30 minute shows were .99.

    But these guys are making the same mistake as movielink. They are charging retail and in many instances for older movies more than retail. Sure you'll make money because some people have plenty of money and would rather not run out to the video store. The rest of us will only use these services when they are cheaper than the video store or they have movies that you can't find anywhere else.

    • by NosTROLLdamus ( 979044 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @12:18PM (#15940828) Journal
      Well, the thing is, this might not be that time efficient either. If I can go buy a movie at a store for the same price as it costs online, and I can get to the store, buy it, and come home before it would of finished downloading, that certainly lessens the appeal.
      • by Kjella ( 173770 )
        Well, the thing is, this might not be that time efficient either. If I can go buy a movie at a store for the same price as it costs online, and I can get to the store, buy it, and come home before it would of finished downloading, that certainly lessens the appeal.

        Unless of course you could do something completely else with that time... or the video would start playing as soon it had downloaded enough that it'd finish before you.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vector0319 ( 530769 )
      Well considering amazon has always been about the long tail of online purchasing I'd figure they would be ramping up on all the movies you can't find anywhere else. []
    • On the other hand, this is we're talking about here, and already having a widely-known name is worth its weight in gold. Just look at iTunes -- DRM is a hassle, buying a full CD of older music is cheaper at a store, but sales keep coming anyway.
    • You do understand that in some cases this isn't really their call to make, right? If the studios say "THOU SHALT NOT SELL THIS MOVIE BELOW THIS PRICE", or even better if they expect to receive a "wholesale" price somewhere close to that (wholesale isn't really applicable here, but I'm not sure what the term is for the studios' cut in this case), unless you're big enough to give them the finger like Apple basically did with iTMS not too long ago, you're going to follow along, since you'd rather have the sel
      • Amazon doesn't have to venture into this business of selling movies either at the whim of the studios. If I had the sense of the parent poster while running amazon I'd think I'd rather not bother. More so when I'm doing fine with my current business model.
    • by Snaller ( 147050 )
      The average hour long TV show can now be downloaded for 1.99. This is fairly reasonable,

      In crap quality. That's far from reasonable 0.10 would still be on the greedy side, depending on the format.
  • Format? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Zelbinian ( 992687 )
    Downloadable movies/TV shows are great, because this is one area where they won't have too much trouble combatting filesharing networks if they do it right. Chances are the downloadable copies are gonna be of better quality than the freebies, and if they're cheaper than an in-store DVD, then most people - especially anyone who's into movies or cares about the quality of rips - will happily take a legal middle ground.

    The only thing I'm worried about is how proprietary this is gonna be. What's this downloa
    • Downloadable movies/TV shows are great, because this is one area where they won't have too much trouble combatting filesharing networks if they do it right. Chances are the downloadable copies are gonna be of better quality than the freebies, ...

      I don't only takes one person to download the paid version, then they can share it out on Bittorrent or whatever.

      • So what. With DVDs and esp. CDs, only one person has to buy it, and then they can share it with everybody in the world also. The fact that the product already comes as computer files doesn't really change much. I don't know why all the media companies are going crazy trying to DRM the hell out of downloadable media when the two main sources of media in the world have virtually no protection against copying. I realize that DVDs once had protection, but it's been rendered useless.
        • Meh, you're right. I'm probably being a little naive. But I did realize that.

          However, I know the reason why I'm tempted to download 'illegally' isn't that I just wanna stick it to the man. I mean, these are people that are doing work, just like me, and I can understand why they wanna be paid for it just like anyone else. I just can't afford to pay what they ask most of the time. I know, personally, that if there was a service out there that let me get an original, DVD-quality download at, I dunno, half(?)
          • This is my biggest problem with iTunes. I have an ipod, but refuse to buy iTunes. The reason? You can often get the CD for the same price, or $1 or $2 more. Plus you get a real physical copy that can be used in any player out there (with a little conversion to mp3 required for some). With iTunes, you get lower quality music, that you can't play in another MP3 player without burning to CD and then reencoding it, which loses more quality. I find I get much better value for my money with buying the CD. T
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by moonbender ( 547943 )
      Chances are the downloadable copies are gonna be of better quality than the freebies (..)

      Why would that be? I mean, in theory, yes, without the hassle of the transfer being illegal you can more easily transmit large amounts of data. On the other hand, while on P2P networks, the transmission cost is shared among all peers, a single distributor has to pay for all (or rather half) of the costs. Are the songs from the ITMS of higher bitrate than the typical scene releases? The TV episodes you can currently buy
      • In my experience, it's really hit or miss. TV shows aren't normally that big of a problem, but there are so many copies of things out there that are just . . . well, bad. Let's face it, a lot of people out there participating in piracy just really don't know what they're doing. So when you download something off of a p2p network, it's really kind of a gamble. My point was at least with a commericial service you know they'll get it right and you'll have a high-quality, watchable copy the first time around. A
    • I'm guessing it will be protected WMV files, like the other services.
      • If Amazon makes the deadly mistake of "exclusive deal" with Microsoft to distribute their Windows only (yes, NO MAC!) WMV 10 DRM format, it means nothing to Mac users.

        Mac users are A+, A and AB class in terms of marketing. Anything ignores Mac is not to be taken serious at all. Especially paid media.

        Remember iTunes was a huge success while it was Mac only. It is not a co-incidence. Mac user community pays for arts. They even donate to those "system themes" large amounts of money.

        For people who got tricked b
    • On this page [], there is a link to an amazon page []. On that page, there is a link to "download the unbox video player", so I do believe the format will be somewhat proprietary. Amazon may take that page down, but I still saw what I saw.
  • Link from Screenshot (Score:3, Informative)

    by kju ( 327 ) on Saturday August 19, 2006 @12:26PM (#15940856)
    The screenshot shows this URL: []. It seems that this URL actually exists, because it gives 200 OK and a 48 byte response.
  • by noneme ( 917222 )
    For about a dollar more (including shipping) at overstock you can buy Road Warrior on physical medium thats uncompressed and higher resolution than any download they'd probably provide.

    Plus they have "Batman Forever" listed for $10. I seriously hope this is just a mockup using current video pictures/prices or that they are considering paying me $10 to watch that movie.

    • by josh59 ( 557881 )
      If you mean they will send you a DVD, that's compressed. (MPEG-2)

      Uncompressed would be the film masters. That would be cool.
      • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
        Uncompressed digital video is also hugely huge. It's akin to a series of bitmap images, and even that would have to be an immense resolution to make up for an analogue to digital conversion.
      • I'd like to think he meant lazer disk, which he watches on his high quality player, which does not require you to flip the disk.
  • These are artwork mock-ups not a final design even if they are genuine. No way Amazon is having its menu jump around like that.

    I have no doubt that Amazon will do this service, however I seriously hope 5GB is not enough to store all my downloads (though if they stick to Windows 0GB would do).
  • Just thought I'd day that, despite not wanting to use this service, I wish it ran on Linux.
  • Related news .. (Score:2, Informative)

    by sunsrin ( 842762 )
    on DownloadSquad - here []
  • "Although it hasn't been officially announced, Amazon is set to launch its long-anticipated movie site this month, people familiar with the matter say. The company's biggest advantage is the trust it has won from millions of households over the years, which may help it gain the trust of customers who still associate downloading movies with piracy, lawsuits and shady software. Amazon may also gain an advantage by launching its site before most of the competition. A spokeswoman for Amazon declined to comment.
  • Taylor also posted what could be the screenshot of the player..

    Stick to selling the movies. We'll use mplayer or xine or something to play them.

    Oh, we can't? You mean these are in a weird new format, or have DRM? Sounds like you're getting out of the "actually selling something that people want" business before you start.

    I'm overreacting, I guess. There's no real evidence that they're crippling it before they start, but the mention of a player, combined with "can be played on a PC, TV or p

    • I couldn't agree more. I would love to be able to buy episodes of TV shows, on their air date, online. The thing is, I sometimes want to watch them on my TV, which means burning to DVD. I sometimes want to watch them on my Nokia '770, which means transcoding them to something that its CPU can handle (200MHz ARM isn't up to the latest formats). Any DRM scheme eliminates these possibilities, which eliminates me from their potential audience.
  • Images mirror []
  • Images mirror []
  • There's been a distinct lack of reputable distributers of downloadable, commercial movies. With Amazon however, I know they're good. I've done business with them before and they're well established, so I can forsee using this service.
  • All the places offering movie downloads are going about it wrong. The whole point of movie downloads isn't so I can get another mainstream movie release that is already on DVD... or a TV show I already get for free on cable... the whole point of movie downloads would be so I can get something obscure that wouldn't be easily available on conventional medium. There is an initial investment of packaging, manufacturing, promotion, etc. for DVDs that mean a lot of obsucre stuff just doesn't have a big enough mar
  • They're offering something that's less valuable than a DVD for the same price or more. Yeah, that'll go far.

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