Surprise, surprise. The Movie Wars didn’t last long. Amazon launched Unbox, their movie download service.
First reports from the battlefield say it’s an Unevent. Is the war over already?
Maybe there will be Movie Wars, and maybe not. First reviews of Amazon’s Unbox movie download service are in. Is the war over already?
After just two days of operation, initial reports say the war is over. Not since Microsoft launched their own music store to compete with Apple’s iTunes has there been such a big yawner.
Or a new service with such obvious problems.
What happened? People tried Unbox and wrote about the experience.
The experiences have not been good.
Tom Merritt, writing for c|net Reviews says, “I do not recommend you try Amazon Unbox…”
Those were his first words. It goes downhill from there.
This isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of what amounts to a huge event in the movie business.
After a few hours of trouble with the proprietary player, Merritt gave up, but then found he couldn’t even uninstall Unbox.
Michael Gartenberg of Jupiter Research had a similar experience with Unbox. Mostly trouble, nothing worked right.
Other experiences of a similar nature are pouring in from all over the US. I can see the headlines: “Amazon Gives Birth To Turkey.”
Unbox uses Microsoft DRM (the techno magic that protects the content from thieves by irritating all the non-thieves, also known as customers), which Gartenberg says even Microsoft may not want to use in their own Zune media player.
Are the Movie Wars over? No online download movie service seems to have captured the customer. Not Unbox, not Vongo, no one.
Apple is expected to introduce movies to the iTunes Music Store next week, along with new iPods, and perhaps a streaming audio/video device for TVs.
If so, the Movie Wars are over.
Why? It’s the ecosystem. At first, iTunes and the iPod were big hits because they just worked well. iTunes managed the music, and synchronized with the iPod.
The iPod just worked. Mac or Windows. It just worked. Customers really love that.
That ecosystem expanded to include the popular iTunes Music Store for music downloads. What’s next?
Movies. It’s natural, and Apple is half-way there already with a huge selection of TV shows for $1.99. So what’s the hold up?
Movie moguls want to hold up the customer again by making them pay the same amount for a digital download as for a DVD. Worse, they want restrictive digital rights management on each download.
Apple has already proven a model that works. Disney and other movie studios will launch movies on Apple’s new service, other will follow because they all want to make money.
What Apple manages to do is make money and please the customer in the process. That’s a lesson many Apple competitors haven’t figured out.