updated 04:45 pm EDT, Fri July 14, 2006
Amazon movie downloads?
Amazon has joined Microsoft as yet another company rumored to be working on a movie download service that would compete with Apple's iTunes Music Store. Reuters reports that Amazon has begun meeting with industry executives and major studios, and is believed to be planning a service for video similar to its "Shorts" service that allows users to receive portions of books for 49 cents. Those rumors peaked at the Seattle Film Festival last month, when former Amazon book editor and film critic Tom Appelo made an appearance. Appelo is believed to be an editor for the new service, according to the report.
The process in which movies move from theaters to retail outlets is a long and structured path, and where these services fit in is the question raised by the digital push.
"It's a placeholder," said one Sony executive. "The strategy is to keep DVD alive, not to kill it with digital downloads. They don't want one to hurt the other."
Industry observers worry that services such as Amazon's rumored video download offering risk hurting retail outlets, which would force them to cut orders. Disney is believed to be one of the most open to the suggestion, as CEO Roger Iger offered its TV content to Apple's iTunes.
Sony also sees potential in the business, and has promised a movie download service on it's PlayStation 3. While Sony hasn't specified which type of movie service it will use, a Sony executive expressed interest in the download-to-own business.
"We have MovieLink, CinemaNow, and Guba.com went up this week. We're just beginning digital downloading," said Sony's president of worldwide distribution. "Distribution isn't built yet. As it builds, we will look at the model. Every company will do its own thing. Things evolve."