Apple’s iTunes Music Store has had TV shows, music videos for nearly two years. But no feature length movies.
All reports say movies are next for the Mac and iPod maker, but Amazon beat Apple to market with the Unbox.
Unbox is Amazon’s movie download service. But not for Macs. Windows only.
Amazon launched the Unbox movie download service less than a week before Apple’s upcoming special event announcement September 12th.
Apple’s “Showtime” announcement may compete head on with Amazon’s Unbox. It’s online movie wars between the titans.
Comparisons of the two movie services are difficult at best. Amazon just launched Unbox and it doesn’t run on anything but Windows.
Reports say Apple has had trouble getting major movie studios to agree on pricing, which means Apple’s movie service may debut with a limited selection of movies; mostly Disney and Pixar.
What is known is that the two competing stores couldn’t be more different.
Amazon’s selection of movies is substantial but the prices mirror those of movies on DVD with a range from $9.99 to $19.99.
Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs reportedly has pressured the movie studios to release movies with a flat price of $9.99.
Insider reports say that flat rates won’t fly, so both Apple and the studios have compromised toward middle ground. $9.99 for library movies, $14.99 for newer movies.
Apple will continue to price music at 99-cents, and TV shows at $1.99.
Apple and Amazon’s storefronts appear remarkably different as well.
Amazon’s store is online and looks similar to the Amazon retail web site. Movies are displayed, previewed, and downloaded from Unbox via a browser.
Once the movie is downloaded it plays back in the Amazon Unbox video player on a PC with Windows.
Movies may also be transferred to portable devices capable of playing music and movies. These include models from Creative, Toshiba, iRiver, and Archos.
Apple’s iPod is not on the Amazon approved player list.
Movies from Amazon may also be burned on a DVD, but for storage only. The movie on the DVD disc will not play on a DVD player.
Amazon also offers a limited time rental service for movie downloads.
Apple’s approach to movie downloads is expected to be substantially different than Amazon’s Unbox.
Movies will be available from Apple’s iTunes Music Store, though some reports say the online store may be revamped to more appropriately promote movies.
Apple has sold nearly 60-million iPods; millions of them capable of playing movies and synchronizing with iTunes on Mac or Windows.
Apple watchers expect the company to continue with an updated version of iTunes to play music, TV shows, and movies.
Synchronization between iPod and PC or Mac has been a strong feature for Apple’s success and is expected to continue with Apple’s movie service.
What is unknown at this date is whether Apple’s movie store will allow downloaded movies to be burned on DVD for personal playback.
Another feature in Apple’s arsenal in the movie wars with Amazon is streaming media.
Some reports also indicate that Apple may unveil a video version of the popular AirportE xpress, which streams audio to TVs and speaker systems from any Mac or PC.
An Airport Express “AV” would be a wireless device which receives streaming video, audio, and photos from a Mac running Front Row, and from PC’s running the latest version of Apple’s updated iTunes.
Media watchers say that Amazon’s Unbox has the initial competitive edge because of the movie selection. Apple’s movie list is expected to be much smaller than Amazon’s Unbox.
Over the long haul, movie studios will eventually place their content wherever it can be sold, and Apple’s track record for selling music and TV shows is tops in the industry.
The combination of a popular online media store, Macs and PCs which can download and playback movies, and millions of iPods ready for more movie content, indicates that Apple may quickly surpass Amazon’s early success.
Amazon’s Unbox video download service may be excellent competition for Apple’s upcoming (and yet unannounced) iTunes Movie Store.
This is much more fun than Sony Betamax vs. VHS, or DOS vs. CP/M, or Mac vs. Windows.
Amazon’s Unbox store is real, live, working, and, in the initial version, not very exciting. It needs to compete at a level similar to Apple’s iTunes, which is the gateway to the iTunes Music Store.
Assuming that Apple builds a movie store which mirrors the online experience of the iTunes Music Store, the battle for movie supremacy in our galaxy may be brief.
Are you ready for movie downloads? What’s a good price point for libary movies, and recent hits? What do you think of Amazon’s Unbox?