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July 17, 2008

Amazon tries out video streaming store

Amazon logo got into the Internet video business in 2006 with its Unbox video download store which, after a rocky start, had seemed to be perking along although achieving minimal success. However, it seems that Amazon has been rethinking the whole market and has now decided to give sales of streaming video a try: will introduce a new online store of TV shows and movies on Thursday, called Amazon Video on Demand.

Customers of Amazon’s new store will be able to start watching any of 40,000 movies and television programs immediately after ordering them because they stream, just like programs on a cable video-on-demand service. That is different from most Internet video stores, like Apple iTunes and the original incarnation of Amazon’s video store, which require users to endure lengthy waits as video files are downloaded to their hard drives.

The video store will be accessible through the Sony Bravia Internet Video link, a $300 tower-shaped device that funnels Web video directly to Sony’s high-definition televisions. That is an awkward extra expense, for now. But future Bravias are expected to have this capability embedded in the television, making it even easier to gain access to the full catalog of past and present TV shows and movies, over the Internet, using a television remote control.

Mr. Carr said Amazon would pursue similar deals with other makers of TVs and Internet devices. “We can support both streaming and downloading,” he said. “Our goal is to continue to establish partnerships with all companies who have a connected device.”

Amazon Video on Demand will be accessible to a limited number of invited customers on Thursday before it opens more broadly to other users later this summer.

One interesting touch is that once an item is "purchased" it is stored in "Your Video Library" and can be watched repeatedly, even from different locations and devices.

Frequent readers will know my mantra that Internet video won’t take off until it is dead simple for the average consumer to use. Amazon Video on Demand certainly fits the bill, but the not-unexpected expense of the intermediate box and its relative rarity is certainly going to slow acceptance. Moreover, details on the technical requirements for the customer’s Internet connection have not been revealed. It will be interesting to see how fat a pipe you have to have to your home to play.

Posted at 12:23 pm. Filed under Amazon, Brands, Bravia, Companies, Internet, Sony, Streaming video, Video on Demand

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