The news of an online video stores have been doing the rounds for quite some time now but rumors hadn’t been substantiated. Until of course, Hacking NetFlix posted screen captures of the Amazon Movie download site yesterday.
Rafat at Paid Content had remarked earlier that Amazon’s movie service (including TV shows) might be launched in mid-August and it looks he wasn’t completely off the mark. Although he mentioned that the service would have ‘download to own’ plus ‘ to burn’ option, the latest screen shots do not show a DVD burn option. That totally sucks because I would rather have my digital data on portable media. Plus, I just got a DVD burner-enabled laptop so it better not be obsolete so soon.
But as ARS Technica rightly points out, providing such an option might require DRM-free videos; something that the movie and television industry might not be comfortable with right now. Also, the prices seem ridiculously high right now with television shows marked at $1.99 and movies around $10. These prices may come down in the future as demand increases and honestly, it would be easier to do so considering the near-zero cost involved in packaging, distributing and shipping.
But overall, this move might signal the shift to a total digital format as opposed to distributing content on ‘real’ media like tapes, CDs, and DVDs. Music has already succeeded, thanks to iTunes, so now probably it is the turn of the movies. Handing out free DVDs to consumers is already threatening to devalue the medium. I am stuck in the middle ground here as I prefer to download music and small-length videos but prefer to watch my longer-running movies on the television. But habits change quickly as we have gone from music on tapes to CDs to iTunes. Lets see if the online video stores change consumer behavior in a similar fashion.