updated 04:25 pm EST, Sat January 29, 2011
Amazon starts testing unlimited movies for Prime
Amazon's plans for unlimited movie streaming akin to Netflix appeared to come to early fruition on Saturday as a spotting has shown the service in action. At least one Amazon Prime subscriber has seen options in the Video On Demand section to stream movies and TV shows, even major recent releases, as part of the $79 yearly subscription. The catalog seen by an Engadget reader had 5,000 titles that would show in 480p.
The online reseller hasn't confirmed any of the plans, and widespread reports have yet to emerge. A possibility exists that the unlimited VOD is a trial and isn't immediately ready to go live.
The addition of the feature would be the largest hit to Netflix, whose streaming-only plan has a larger catalog but also costs $96 a year to maintain. It would also mount stiff competition against Apple's iTunes and other pay-per-title services since it would be one of the first major services to merge both unlimited streaming with the option of getting a permanent copy. Adding other Prime features, such as free expedited shipping, could give Amazon a competitive edge.
Amazon's service is also uniquely cross-platform and, in its core form, works on both Macs and Windows PCs as well as TiVos and some other media hubs.