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Amazon to Enter the Online DVD Rental Business

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the rental-race dept.

Media 243

ChrisF79 writes "Wired News is reporting that Amazon.com is hiring programmers to work with online dvd rentals. From the article: "Advertising for positions based at the company's Seattle headquarters, the listings seek engineers to help in 'building systems and algorithms that must move inventory between our fulfillment centers and our customers in a way that gives customers exactly what they want, when they want it.' The postings indicate they are specifically for an online DVD rental service." Netflix seems to have a stronghold on the market so despite numerous advantages for Amazon, especially economies of scale, can Amazon enter the market and surpass Netflix?"

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Advantage: Amazon (5, Interesting)

jmp_nyc (895404) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278643)

Amazon has the clear advantage here. They already operate distribution centers in several locations around the US, have experience in inventory management and quick shipping, and can even rent videos at a slight loss for a while, using it to drive business to the rest of their operations.

Of course, if all that fails, they can follow their usual MO and file a patent for the idea of unlimited online rentals for a monthly fee and drive Netflix out of business that way.
-JMP

Re:Advantage: Amazon (1)

leonmergen (807379) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278719)

Amazon has the clear advantage here. They already operate distribution centers in several locations around the US, have experience in inventory management and quick shipping, and can even rent videos at a slight loss for a while, using it to drive business to the rest of their operations.

Well, it will be interresting to see how they actually think to manage all those rentals. If you see what they charge for shipping packages right now, and assume it cannot really get much lower, the actual delivery of a package costs pretty much.

I don't think it's very likely this whole idea will succeed if the shipping fees aren't close to free, so I am really interrested in the solution they will come up with to deal with those problems...

Re:Advantage: Amazon (1)

Dirk Pitt (90561) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278936)

It's a different package than they typically deliver right now; a book or CD comes in a cardboard box, often with packing bubbles and such.

If they follow the Netflix model, the DVD will be shipped in an envelope such that the whole package weighs less than an ounce - disc only, no case. It's their product, so they can risk them getting broken at virtually no cost (distributors probably replace them for free). First-class, non-bulk postage using USPS for a square envelope 1oz is around 50c. You can imagine that they get a pretty good bulk discount on shipping, and assuredly won't use USPS.

Also, these subscription models depend on the fact that a large number of people won't use it very often. If even a small percentage of the subscribership pays the $10/month and average one rental every 1.5 months, the service's profit margin goes through the roof.

Re:Advantage: Amazon (1)

ChibiLZ (697816) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278941)

Ah, but it can get lower. If you are sending out large amounts of mail, i.e. bulk mail, you can get much cheaper rates through the USPS. Plus, and I'm not sure if you're an online DVD renter, they are just sending a little flat envelope.

I'm all for competition, but I think Amazon will have to have a special gimmick of some sort to enter into the US market with any success.

And for all Netflix users out there, my Queue Manager program is now officially free, and officially version 1. Now that it's out of beta, come give it a spin!

Re:Advantage: Amazon (1)

Foz (17040) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279253)

And for all Netflix users out there, my Queue Manager program is now officially free, and officially version 1. Now that it's out of beta, come give it a spin!


Too bad it's for windows. How about a mac/linux port?

-- Gary F.

Re:Advantage: Amazon (3, Informative)

Cerdic (904049) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278756)

WalMart also had those advantages over Netflix, but look at what happened. They stopped taking new subscriptions (because they intend to stop the service) not too long ago.

Re:Advantage: Amazon (4, Interesting)

bedroll (806612) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278816)

Netflix needs better competition anyway. Blockbuster competes on price and that they give in-store rentals, but they don't compete on service.

A co-worker recently did a trial comparison of the two services. He found that Netflix sent, received, and processed faster. Also, he found the entire sign up process easier with Netflix (mostly due to an error Blockbuster's site experienced with his sign up, which could be a one time issue). Their website is better designed. Basically, they're just a better online service than Blockbuster has been.

Amazon has proven to be a good online service. My personal experience shows that there's rarely ever need to use anything but super-saver shipping because most things get to me just that quick. Their website works: I can find stuff, I can buy stuff.

If anyone can compete with Netflix it's them, hopefully this will either force Netflix to continue to improve or lower their prices. That means that I win. If nothing else, they probably won't raise prices or worsen service, so I at least won't lose.

Re:Advantage: Amazon (2, Insightful)

joebok (457904) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278871)

I don't know if they have a "clear advantage" - NetFlix has a lot of name recognition and customer loyalty. My experience has been great, as have the experiences of everyone I know - very easy to use and excellent customer service. "NetFlix" is practically synonomous with "on-line DVD rental".

A contender has a lot to accomplish to get to that level I think.

Re:Advantage: Amazon (1)

ObjetDart (700355) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279059)

Amazon has the clear advantage here. They already operate distribution centers in several locations around the US, have experience in inventory management and quick shipping, and can even rent videos at a slight loss for a while, using it to drive business to the rest of their operations.

I don't think the advantage is so clear...Netflix has all that stuff too, and has already been in the business for a long, long time (in Internet time, anyway.) Walmart already went head-to-head with Netflix for a while and eventually gave up.

I've been a long time constomer of both Netflix and Amazon. I think both are good companies. I think the Netflix price is very reasonable (we don't have cable or broadcast TV, so we watch a lot of movies; our per-movie cost winds up being around $1 - $1.50). I just don't see what Amazon could offer that would be so much better than Netflix that I would want to switch.

That is why they will loose (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279243)

They already operate distribution centers in several locations around the US

That is true. And that's how Netflix started.

But then they realized that for timley delivery of movies, you really need hundreds of distribution centers, not several. Hundreds may be exaggerating a little bit, but Netflix definatley has more than several.

The ones who can get you the widest selection fastest wins. The only thing Amazon might offer in competition over Walmart (which did not fare well against Netflix) is perhaps a better web UI and more customer visits. But Netflix already has a good UI and an accurate customer rating database (Amazon knows what you bought [from them] but not who you bought it for an generally not how much you liked it).

Don't forget Netflix is also in partnership with Best Buy, which gives them a pretty good ongoing new customer base. I don't think they have to worry about Amazon overmuch, especially if Amazon is just now hiring programmers!

Instant gratification (5, Insightful)

phpm0nkey (768038) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278655)

I was a NetFlix subscriber for about two years, because they were the best of what was around. Recently, I switched to Blockbuster's in-store unlimited rentals, because it could give me something that NetFlix couldn't: instant gratification.

I am fickle. With NetFlix, I too frequently found a DVD in my mailbox that I felt like watching 3 days ago. Being able to pick out a movie and be watching it 20 minutes later really makes a world of difference.

Perhaps NetFlix will go one better. With movie downloads just around the bend [slashdot.org] , it appears that they're taking innovation and competition in their industry very seriously. Amazon may have the inventory and distribution architecture to easily catapult themselves into the market, but if they don't have anything more interesting than DVDs-by-mail on the horizon, they may quickly find themselves left behind.

Re:Instant gratification (4, Informative)

dazzla_2000 (204679) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278696)

Their other advantage is they've already done this in the UK.

Re:Instant gratification (4, Insightful)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278703)

I was a Blockbuster subscriber... but after a year (and the dreck that's been coming out of Hollywood) I ran out of movies to watch. I wish they'd stock more TV shows (new and old).

If Blockbuster could work out a deal w/ the movie industry to burn the DVDs onsite so they could have all the benefits of an unlimited DVD inventory and all the convenience of 20 minute turn around times, I think they'd really hurt NetFlix & Amazon's business.

Re:Instant gratification (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278709)

> but if they don't have anything more interesting than DVDs-by-mail on the
> horizon, they may quickly find themselves left behind.

I think the `being sent a dvd in the post` horizon looms more closely than the `watching a film on your pc monitor` in my country, although perhaps where you live people with broadband connections and 30 inch pc monitors outnumber those with a front door and a dvd player...

Re:Instant gratification (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278869)

I think the `being sent a dvd in the post` horizon looms more closely than the `watching a film on your pc monitor` in my country, although perhaps where you live people with broadband connections and 30 inch pc monitors outnumber those with a front door and a dvd player...

I think the "Not having your TV Hooked up to the ineternet" horizion is closer than either of those.

Re:Instant gratification (2, Interesting)

xao gypsie (641755) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278729)

The only issue I take to that is this: I have to haul my ass all the way to blockbuster to get the video. I live in an oldish city, and the nearest blockbuster is hard to get to. it is usually crowded on that block, and it forces me to parallel park. I would rather just get "back into the mood" to watch a movie that I don't have to drive to get.

Re:Instant gratification (1)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279022)

We got my Dad a Netflix subscription a couple of years ago and he still has it.

We got a Blockbuster Online subscription and it's fantastic. It's cheaper than Netflix and has two "free" in-store rentals each month. So you get the delivery stuff but you can also get your instant gratification if you need something on short notice.

Other than their site needing a serious reworking (no middle clicking to open new tabs?!) it's an excellent service.

Re:Instant gratification (2, Interesting)

frodo from middle ea (602941) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278759)

besides some thing like this [manuelsweb.com] makes me very doubtful about joining netflix.

Re:Instant gratification (1)

MyTwoCentsWorth (593731) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278858)

You might want to also see

April 29 post [slashdot.org]

for related info.
Happy posting.

Re:Instant gratification (4, Informative)

rale, the (659351) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278977)

I think the throttling thing is a bit of an exageration. I just pulled up my 3 month history on netflix's site, and I rented 20, 15, and 17 dvds for a total of 52 over 90 days. Before that I was renting roughly the same amount aswell. I have the 3 at a time plan, which is $18 a month. That means I'm paying $54 for 3 months, which works out to $1.04 per rental, whereas that site says they'll throttle you if you get under $2/per. It is possible that the occasional extra day waits are some sort of throttling measure, but it doesnt seem to me that they're very aggressive, if so. Well, atleast I think I'm getting a pretty good deal at 1.04/each.

Re:Instant gratification (1)

Mr. Bad Example (31092) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279323)

> that site says they'll throttle you if you get under $2/per.

Wow. This is the first time I've heard of a customer disincentive program.

So, do they use piano wire, or what?

Re:Instant gratification (2, Interesting)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278916)

This is true, but its hard to find an older movie at blockbuster. My experience is that if an older movie is lost or damaged at blockbuster, they dont reorder it and I can't rent it again. The online renters have thousands more movies in stock, and also tv shows and things like that.

With online retailers, I have found netflix to have much faster turn around times than blockbuster online. Netflix also seems to have many more copies of movies and a better selection. Just my observations.

Re:Instant gratification (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278953)

I tend to agree. However, I tend not to support large, aggressive, "family" based, international media conglomerates. The difference for me isn't worth becoming a corporate whore.

Re:Instant gratification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13279340)

I switched to Blockbuster's in-store unlimited rentals, because it could give me something that NetFlix couldn't: instant gratification.

I couldn't do it. Blockbuster edits their movies for content, which is evil. Besides, while I may act on impulse... I generally know what I want to watch 'soon' (more than 20 mins into the future).

The selection is horrible ay Blockbuster, and a lot of movies that are 4:3 are not clearly labeled so.

Amazon's Advantage (1)

johnnyb (4816) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278666)

I think Amazon's advantage is that because of the sheer volume of shipping they currently do they can probably get better prices on video shipping.

However, personally, I really never use Amazon for anything more than books. Perhaps it has caught on in other markets, but I really see Amazon as a book place. I think my first instinct would still be to go to Netflix if I wanted to rent movies.

Re:Amazon's Advantage (3, Informative)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278861)

However, personally, I really never use Amazon for anything more than books.

Why? In addition to books (used and new) I have bought multiple things there including two GPS units and a mobile phone.

The latest GPS unit (GPSMap 76CS) was on sale, no rebates necessary, and priced $50 less than its lower end unit (76C). Six months later, the price I got (with no mail-in-rebates) is still less than you can find 99% of the time.

The mobile phone (T-mobile Sidekick 1) came with instant and mail-in-rebates that totalled enough to make the phone $0 with on year of service.

Why would you only go to Amazon for books when there are so many bargains on there that I seem to only be able to find there?

I'm not an amazon.com rep, investor, or otherwise, just a happy customer.

Re:Amazon's Advantage (1)

aacool (700143) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279050)

I joined Amazon Prime - the all-you-can-eat shipping program, and it significantly changed my shopping habits - I'm buying more stuff, but it's relevant to my preferences. And I always look on Amazon first. Two-day shipping is great too.

On the Netflix competition front, it is interesting that Netflix has not yet, AFAIK, used it's patent on the DVD delivery/rental service that it took out a long time back.

Culturally, Amazon will be a better fit, competitively, than Wal-mart and Blockbuster, because it has no brick-and-mortar affiliation or overhead, similar to Netflix. I believe that an acquisition is not ruled out here. It's basically a 'Buy v. Build' decision, IMHO

Can't wait for the recommendations feature (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13278668)

People who viewed "Anal Invaders 4" also enjoyed...

Re:Can't wait for the recommendations feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13278880)

People who viewed "Anal Invaders 4" also enjoyed...

Oblig: Gay Niggers From Outer Space! [imdb.com]

Re:Can't wait for the recommendations feature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13278994)

People who viewed "Anal Invaders 4" also enjoyed...

Planet of the Gapes, Bend Over and Cough, and The Dukes of Hazzard.

netflix is nice but (1)

brickballs (839527) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278671)

netflix is very nice, but i ended up canceling my service. I had it for a few months but eventualy canceled because i dont watch enough movies to make it worth my while.

ask not..... (1)

xao gypsie (641755) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278672)

...for whom the bell tolls, for it tolls for Blockbuster!!!

Operation (3, Insightful)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278681)

When netflix lowered their price in competition with blockbuster, netflix claimed they were in jeopardy of making pennies for profit. The opposite happened and their stock prices went higher.

I am really confused as to whether everybody is still overcharging. Considering everyone has an endless queue list that seem to be sending things out of order again and again. There is still a real supply problem.

Re:Operation (1)

The Dobber (576407) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278846)


Just cause thier stock value went up doesn't mean they're making profit.

Remember the days of sock puppets and on-line grocery shopping?

Fluke (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278996)

I have the Netflix super-duper account (8 movies at a time), and have for a while. What you're describing, I've seen I think once or twice in more than a year. Just a glitch, in my opinion. As a hardcore movie buff, I think that Netflix is just fantastic. Good service, quick turnaround, and a much, much better selection than somebody like BallBuster could ever have. Plus, they don't intentionally mislead their customers like BallBuster (hence the "no late fees!" class action lawsuit). I feel bad for not going to my local video store, but considering I try to watch one new (to me) movie every night, I was quickly going broke at my local store.

Re:Operation (2, Interesting)

Mad_Rain (674268) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279291)

I am really confused as to whether everybody is still overcharging. Considering everyone has an endless queue list that seem to be sending things out of order again and again. There is still a real supply problem.

I should probably not give away a secret this good, especially on slashdot, but I've been renting newly released DVD movies from my local library for $1.50. [ca.gov] Same length of time from the video store (About 3 days) and significantly cheaper than any of the local area chain video stores. Documentaries and TV series are free to rent, and you can keep some of those up to 3 weeks. Sometimes there is a wait on the TV series, but overall it's worked beautifully for me.

They better get a patent! (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278688)

...before anyone else can claim prior art!

Re:They better get a patent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13278760)

If they haven't already applied for one, then it is probably too late.

Internet users are very versatile (1)

LastNickAvailable (676709) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278704)

History has shown that when it comes to Internet businesses, nothing is forever ... So if Amazon gives better service and/or better prices Netflix customers will have no remorse switching.

Re:Internet users are very versatile (2, Insightful)

spidereyes (599443) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279009)

Well Blockbuster price is lower so your statement isn't entirely correct. I've used both services for about a year. Netflix was incredibly smooth and I received movies very fast for the area I lived in. They have a lot of movies that I couldn't find in the brick and mortar stores. So I agree their service was second to none. I decided to save a few bucks and try Blockbuster. These guy's took a week to mail me my DVDs and were ALWAYS out of the movies I wanted to see. Then they would constantly get lost in the mail and the hassle wasn't worth the $3 savings. Secondly, I wanted to use a free rental, but didn't have the coupon on me. I asked the clerk if they could just look up my account. Of course their system isn't that smart and they consider it a totaly different entity. The next time I go in (with the coupon) and they ask me to sign-up for a card and everything. I decline and he turns me down for renting the video. I explain to him I have an online account and why do I need to sign-up for yet another account. I mean really how many things do I have to sign-up for to rent Kids? Because I'm a cheap bastard I was lulled into trying Blockbuster, but 4 weeks later I was happy again with my Netflix subscription. The old adage still goes, "You get what you pay for."

Already in the UK (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13278706)

Amazon already have a DVD rental system in the UK. I have never tried it as I use LoveFilm, but I hear its ok.

Re:Already in the UK (2, Interesting)

jantheman (113125) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279046)

I use it.

There are no complaints.

fyi:

Turn arond time typically 3 days (in the postbox by 12pm -> email telling you they've got it & what you're getting next -> receipt).

Only one unreadable DVD out of ~ 20 so far. Using their online 'damage reported' method, they sent a replacement before I returned the bad one.

Re:Already in the UK (1)

whisperingwind (314431) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279060)

In the UK yes, but so expensive I doubt they get much business. They want UKP 9.99/month for 6 DVDs. Typically, others charge UKP 15/month for 3 at a time, say 12 a month if you watch and return them quickly.

News? (5, Informative)

Florian Weimer (88405) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278714)

They have already entered the DVD rental market: Amazon.de Launches DVD Rental Service For Customers in Germany [corporate-ir.net] , Amazon.co.uk Launches New DVD Rental Service [corporate-ir.net]

Re:News? (2, Interesting)

grahamm (8844) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279133)

Surely they already have the software for doing it. So why do they need to hire more programmers for it?

News? (1)

Itchy Rich (818896) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278716)

Isn't this just US Amazon getting behind the times [amazon.co.uk] ?

Hmm... (0, Redundant)

MaestroSartori (146297) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278720)

...Amazon in the UK have been doing DVD rentals for a while now. Presumably this hasn't been true in the US until now?

I wonder if they've held off to iron out the logistical problems that having a considerably larger distribution area will cause compared to us over in our tiny country :)

Amazon already does this in the UK (1, Redundant)

jockm (233372) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278721)

Amazon already does this in the UK [amazon.co.uk] . Since learning about this from my friends over there, I figured it was just a matter of time before they brought the program over here.

Re:Amazon already does this in the UK (1)

bananasfalklands (826472) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278992)

Its not a very good range of films at amazon, if you want 'odd' stuff you normally end up at a specailist renter - there good for new releases i will grant them that but i dont want to see new releases as i have seen those at the cinema.

Not the best deal either. Id rather use a specailist than a generalist.

Amazon already do this in the UK (0, Redundant)

dazzla_2000 (204679) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278723)

They've been there done that http://www.amazon.co.uk/ [amazon.co.uk]

Been there done that (-1, Redundant)

CarrotLord (161788) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278733)

amazon.co.uk has been doing this for a while now. It works quite well.

Netflix around since 1998 (1)

ayeco (301053) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278766)

FWIW, I recently read that Netflix started in 1998, Amazon 1994.

It needs to have more selection (1)

Elias Ross (1260) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278769)

The only way Amazon would get me interested would be if they offered more foreign releases, such as region 2 and region 3 titles that Netflix doesn't offer. In my neighborhood is a rental company named Scarecrow Video that offers 70,000 unique titles (compare to 40k of Netflix). They have VHS tapes and laser disks dating back to the 80s, things that never made it to DVD, and DVDs that are out of print.

Anyway, for your Average Joe/Jane, selection isn't that important. But I really like a comprehensive store, especially with Asian titles that never make it to the States.

Re:It needs to have more selection (1)

cens0r (655208) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279271)

Another scarecrow fan! They have everything, and it's usually instant gratification. No longer do I have to wait for the cooul foriegn movie to come out in the US, I simply go and get the DVD.

unlimited online rentals !!!!??? (-1, Offtopic)

anandpur (303114) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278775)

Can some one please explein this to me, both Netflix and BlockBuster advertise service as "unlimited online rentals" How can some one rent UNLIMITED DVD a month. Do thay have "UNLIMITED" DVD in store? There is a limit like 10-24 DVD a month (3 out plan) or We have 45K DVD titles. rent as musch as you like. How is this UNLIMITED?

Re:unlimited online rentals !!!!??? (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279018)

Can some one please explein this to me, both Netflix and BlockBuster advertise service as "unlimited online rentals" How can some one rent UNLIMITED DVD a month. Do thay have "UNLIMITED" DVD in store? There is a limit like 10-24 DVD a month (3 out plan) or We have 45K DVD titles. rent as musch as you like. How is this UNLIMITED?

Don't be daft. "Unlimited" as they use it clearly means that the terms of DVD rental have no hard number limiting your rentals, but rather the number of movies you get is limited only by the number of movies available and the logistics of getting those movies to you. Just like the "bottomless cup" of coffee they offer at the local diner isn't really bottomless, but is simply a regular cup that they will refill until you've had enough and leave.

Who cares, I'm boycotting amazon (1)

Serveert (102805) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278789)

I'll stick with netflix unless they go patent crazy.

Who cares what you're doing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13278990)

I sure don't.

Re:Who cares what you're doing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13279347)

I'll be sure to note that in my diary.

Re:Who cares, I'm boycotting amazon (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279369)

If I recall correctly, they do have a patent that pretty much covers renting DVDs via the internet. Expect to see them suing Amazon soon. Then again, Amazon could probably hit back with some patents of their own, so maybe they won't sue. Still, Netflix is as patent crazy as most other businesses now.

Combination with shipping (4, Insightful)

Blindman (36862) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278792)

The way that Amazon could really gain an advantage is if they could find a way to combine buying other items with DVD rental. If I could buy a book, and get it shipped free with my incoming DVD that would be something. Otherwise, I don't see how they can compete except on price or name regonition.

Re:Combination with shipping (1)

domipheus (751857) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278918)

Whilst not exactly what you're after, Amazon UK give a 10% discount on DVD purchases if you are a rental subscriber.

My first post! (-1, Offtopic)

ChrisF79 (829953) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278800)

Woot, as an aside, I finally got my first story posted on the front page of slashdot... Love the site, hope to keep being able to contribute.

Re:My first post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13279000)

Congratulations also on your first [maybe] vacuous comment!

Too Late? (4, Insightful)

canolecaptain (410657) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278804)

With the deployment of the XBox 360 in mass quantities in '06, content producers will have the ability to content lock their movies. Microsoft will finally be able to promise that security to media execs, which will then loosen them up enough to allow the streaming to occur. When that desire is coupled with the increased availability of broadband, the on-demand downloading will finally go mainstream with Microsoft attempting to lead the way. Others in this market will be Apple with iVideo, potentially Sony on the PS3, and potentially juggernaut Google to the PC.
Unless Amazon can couple the download with the the DVD rental (both will be necessary), they will be too late to be of consequence. My guess is that Netflix, Intelliflix, and Blockbuster will all begin on demand downloads by the end of next year.

Re:Too Late? (1)

Fatchap (752787) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278943)

Saw on the register http://www.theregister.co.uk/ [theregister.co.uk] on Monday that in the UK BoxOffice365.com has already started. At moment they have nob all content, but it is a start.

How many times will this be news? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13278808)

I've heard this announced at least 3 times in the last 3 months. What gives?

no point when many films are £5 on DVD (2, Interesting)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278812)

of course it depends on your taste in films, the rocky box set is £25 in one store near where i work. bought Solaris last week for £4 from Virgin Megastore. Having about 6 stores within half a mile of where i work all fighting to get rid of lots of stock at cheap prices is great. And then there's the (probably legally dubious) ex rentals from my local blockbuster and choice videos offering newish films at low low prices. in this instance i tend to buy really obscure/foreign films that are highly unlikely to have been watched that many times = bargains.

obviously i dont know how well this all translates across the pond but basically i hardly ever rent and when i do it's because it's 7pm and me and the missus are a bit bored of my japanese samurai film collection and she sends me to the video store to find something "girly". we dont go online and find something to watch in a couple of days.

but having said that i'm far too tight to fork out the cash for the stanley kubrik boxed set. now i might be tempted to rent THAT for a few quid, a whole weekend of kubrik and post it back. handy. think i just defeated my own point!

Re:no point when many films are £5 on DVD (1)

daern (526012) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279142)

...and she sends me to the video store to find something "girly"....

Now that's a fine lady you have. When there's nothing on TV, she sends you to the video shop for porn!

Meanwhile, on-demand is falling behind.. (2, Interesting)

British (51765) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278823)

...at least for Comcast.

When I'm not blowing $18-21 at a time to rent a whole season of a tv show at the local video store(yes, I know I should go netflix), I give Comcast VOD a try.

So let's go watch Constantine.. Wait, it's not listed. Okay, let's go watch Hellboy..wait. No, wait, the only have bottom-of-the box office barrel movies available.

Comcast's offerings of VOD is incredibly pathetic for being such a mega-corp. You would think DVD distributors would lend them a few episodes of a TV show they just released for free viewing. Then,if you like the show so much you could buy it. Free advertising. Give 'em a taste.

Heck, let me pay a small fee to VOD the HBO/Showtime premium tv shows, without having to subscribe to said premiums.

So far, VOD to me is a dud.

Re:Meanwhile, on-demand is falling behind.. (1)

jskiff (746548) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279130)

So let's go watch Constantine.. Wait, it's not listed. Okay, let's go watch Hellboy..wait. No, wait, the only have bottom-of-the box office barrel movies available.

You mean like Constantine [boxofficemojo.com] and Hellboy [boxofficemojo.com] ?

Re:Meanwhile, on-demand is falling behind.. (1)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279213)

Yes, I will have to agree that OnDemand has been mismanaged across the board from its inception.

Virtually everything is Pan And Scan, only a handful of programs are Widescreen, and the decision about what gets the P&S or Wide treatment is seemingly random. Small indie films which will probably be viewed by Widescreen devotees are P&S, while crap romantic comedies are presented in your choice of P&S or Wide. Any time older films are added to the pay-per-view part and put on sale for a reduced rate, it is never, ever in Widescreen. A few months ago I was ready to order "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", "Platoon" and several other films. But all of them were P&S.

Networks that try to lure you into their series by placing a season of their shows OnDemand often do it in the most half-assed way possible. (HBO, I'm looking at you).

Nothing is worse than trying to get into a show, only to discover that you have episodes 1-17 and 19-22 of the 22 episode season available for viewing. The latter episodes are sometimes marked for expiration from the service at a date earlier than the earlier episodes in the season. You may spend a few days plowing through a season, only to have the last two episiodes deleted from the lineup by the time you get to them, while the rest of the season remains. It makes absolutely no sense, and is delivered in such a way that makes me think it was designed to make it so that you are unable to catch up to the upcoming season. If I can't catch up, I won't watch it. Simple as that.

This is why Netflix will remain my choice provider of films and TV shows. I refuse to watch any film in Pan And Scan, and I can't drop $50-$100 to watch one season of one show.

Infinite Resources, Massive Distribution Network (1)

kingradar (643534) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278839)


Simple answer, yes they can.

They already have a massive distribution network, with wharehouses all over the country, equipped with the latest in inventory management hardware/software. They have agreements in place with all of the major shipping companies, and DVD distributors.

All they lack is a website. I'm not quite sure if they can figure out how to create a website though. Might be why they are seeking to hire some engineers.

Re:Infinite Resources, Massive Distribution Networ (1)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278895)

"All they lack is a website."

And customers willing to rent from them. They will have to earn the trust of those who rent regularly from Netflix. In fact, I'll venture to say that unless they can offer some significant benefit that Netflix can't offer then they will have a long, tall hill to climb in developing new customers.

Re:Infinite Resources, Massive Distribution Networ (1)

kingradar (643534) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278948)


They have two advantages over Netflix. The first is that Amazon has a more mainstream audience. Netflix clearly dominates the market amongst early-adopters, but that leaves things open for Blockbuster and Amazon both of which have a more mainstream customer base to draw from.

The second is that Amazon can run this program at a net loss, or breakeven point while it builds the economies of scale needed for profit. They can do this because they have money in the bank from their other lines of business, and because they can view what money they lose on this operation as an 'advertising' expense. This service will no-doubt drive clicks to amazon.com, which will result in more sales from their other product offerings. Not to mention how likely it is that someone will purchase a DVD they rented using the Amazon service.

Maybe the first real competition Netflix has had (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13278849)

I remember all kinds of handwringing about Walmart or Blockbuster running Netflix out of business. Sort of like the handwringing we read a few years ago when people were saying things like "Yeah, Amazon's fine now, but wait until REAL vendors like B&N or Borders get into the online market. They'll crush Amazon." The things that make Amazon and Netflix unique, and successful where the name brands we already knew have come up short, all have to do with the fact that the "new guys" like Amazon and Netflix have some real experience doing an online business and understand (and have built) the infrastructure required to do so, whereas the "big name" B&M people have litle idea of what they're getting themselves into when they go to battle with the internet guys. So, after hand-wringing about Walmart running Netflix out of business, I read that Netflix has absorbed the shards of Walmart's attempts to enter this business. But Amazon is a different issue. They might not have a lot of experience with media rental, but they've got a ton of experience running a large, distributed internet storefront. Or, they might underestimate what Netflix accomplishes already. I guess we aren't really gonna know until it's over.

Books anyone? (2, Interesting)

rdurell (827253) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278859)

I could see Amazon doing with books what Netflix does with DVDs. It is essentially the same thing with the same issues.

reliability (2, Interesting)

domipheus (751857) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278972)

A problem I see with that is postage, books are considerably larger and heavier == expensive.

Also, books get damaged far quicker than dvd's. I dont think it is a real option for them.

SELL SELL SELL (1)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278860)

Time to sell your netfilx stock. Sell short if you don't have any!

In Soviet Russia... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13278863)

In Soviet Russia, DVD Rents YOU!

Sticking With Netflix (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278878)

I like Amazon in general, but I'm going to stick with Netflix for now. I've been a member since they started and I've seen the service continue to improve over that time. I like them because for me it is a real hassle to go to BlockBuster and Netflix has more movies that cater to my outside of the mainstream tastes, like foriegn films and anime. If Netflix can continue to appeal to niche markets as well as the mainstream, then they have a shot.

Oh boy (0, Troll)

dgos78 (881140) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278886)

More scratched up DVDs. Yay.

A haiku. (1, Funny)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278897)

Netflix is doomed
Amazon awakens soon
We want cheap movies

No. Not haiku, senryu (3, Funny)

Mr Guy (547690) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279214)

http://www.phenry.org/junkdrawer/haiku/ [phenry.org]

Consider NoMoreNicksLeft,
Of humor, he was bereft,
He tried a haiku
And failed, as will you
So go back to your job of dick theft

Now in the case of Amazon.com
and whether their product will bomb.
It may work, you see
For you and for me,
But will it appeal to your Mom?

I Look Forward To Amazon Doing This (2, Interesting)

Evil W1zard (832703) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278903)

Hopefully Amazon will offer a competitive price and that will hopefully lead to lower prices on Netflix...

If Amazon does a good job here I would probably switch over because I have noticed that everytime I start returning a lot of movies back to Netflix there is a mysterious slow down in delivery of new movies on their part. They blame it on the Post Office but there distro facility is right down the road and checking with the Post Office there really is no delay. It looks to me like Netflix either doesn't process returned movies quick enough or delays them so you get less movies per month if you happen to be watching/returning them too fast. Anyone else have that issue?

if walmart couldnt make it (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278904)

I doubt amazon will fare any better. 

Just because there are already two players... (1)

chia_monkey (593501) | more than 9 years ago | (#13278950)

...Doesn't mean that Amazon can't succeed. Netflix did good and Blockbuster was scared so they jumped in. As a few readers pointed out however, they like their instant gratification and to be able to walk into the store and get what they want when they want it. Consider Blockbuster a bricks and mortar store that happens to have an online component.

The real point here however is that just because Netflix and Blockbuster online exist doesn't mean Amazon can't come along and emerge as the winner. There were how many mp3 player manufacturers back in '01 with Rio (if my memory is working correctly this morning) being the big player along with all the others. Along comes Apple and they crushed the competition. If Amazon does it right, and I'm sure they've done their homework, they could easily rise to the top.

uh... (1)

rwven (663186) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279010)

I thought amazon bought out netflix.... or was that another company? Wasn't there a story about the sale a little hwile back on /.?

Already out here in the UK (1)

tezza (539307) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279076)

Bizarre. I did a double take.

Amazon.co.uk already does DVD rentals, and I'm a subscriber.

Must be a Market Acceptance tester. Similar to how some movies are released in Australia first to see whether they will float or not.

I really like the Amazon service (3, Interesting)

el_womble (779715) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279081)

If the US service is as good as the UK service, this should do quite well. Neat little DVD holders, clever postage packaging and fast turn around and the price was significantly cheaper than renting from Blockbusters. My only complaint was that my girlfriend has taken it over. In the last month she has made me watch The Notebook, Million Dollar Baby and Piglet the Movie. Apparently, I'm not allowed to rent Shaolin Soccer because we can't both watch it?!?!?!

How inexpensive is enough? (1)

awfar (211405) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279092)

I read that some are so twitchy that a couple days delay is too much for them to bear: I read some that say Netflix is too expensive:

As compared to what?

As a WalMart Rental ejectee, I find Netflix to be fair, honest, fast, and have a great selection.

I suggest that being so twitchy is nothing to be proud of, and those who don't consider it a fair deal ~$20/month, a large pizza, for three outstanding to say what a fair deal is? Is $5 too much? If so, it should, and effectively is, a free service, so just say so.

Market research and shooting your mouth off (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279306)

As compared to what?

Presumably as compared to other entertainment alternatives. It depends a lot on how many movies you want to watch per month. You need to rent more than one disk a week to make it comparable to dropping by the video store (depending on how close they are, how much you mind returning movies, etc.)

But if you instead spent $60 on a video game and then spent three months playing it, you break even. Or you can buy several books. Hell, going outside is free.

You're right that Slashdotters often have a strange notion of "value". For example, many declared $.99 per song from iTMS too much based on absolutely no market data. Sure, they'd RATHER pay less, but that's kind of a no-brainer. At least in the iTMS case, people seem to be reasonably content for a buck a song. The question is, how elastic is your entertainment dollar?

Me, I get around 80 disks a year from Netflix, which would cost $300 at the video store compared to $240 from Netflix. A good savings, but not inordinate. It means I get to see stuff I wouldn't take a chance on otherwise; I wouldn't spend even $240 at Blockbuster if I had to take some of those risks.

Enter the online DVD business.. it's easy. (1)

Yellow_Piss_Hat (745926) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279108)

I ran a website about 50 years ago and we sold wool hats to soldiers in the war.

Business became tough, but in the end we pulled through. After all was said and done, we figured we'd open an online DVD shop and give things a go... this was about 1850 or so.

At first, it was VERY hard to keep up with the demands.. subscribers kept pouring in, but we didn't have enough DVDs to go around... until we entered a deal with Bill Cosby so that in exchange for hundreds of thousands of DVDs, we would eat his jello.

Theo became all pissed off and was like, "wtf dad."

And Bill Cosby just kept a stern face and replied, "You got your hoppin and a boppin and hippity hoppin while the downloads a rockin in the music stops knockin u know.. Theo, the Matriz has u."

Better website? (5, Interesting)

aggressivepedestrian (149887) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279116)

I think one thing Amazon will have going for them is their website. Assuming they leverage a lot of their existing code, their initial US launch should be miles ahead of Netflix. While Amazon is constantly adding new features that help me find interesting things in the long tail [wired.com] , I don't think Netflix has made an improvement to their website in the two years I've been a customer.

Don't get me wrong, I like Netflix, but the recommendations they make for me are almost always off target. On the other hand, Amazon is always presenting me with interesting recommendations on music and books.

That's just one feature that I expect they will execute better than Netflix. They also have a slew of fetaures Netflix doesn't offer. Some of the ones I've found useful include "the page you made", "customers who bought this also bought this", "customers who viewed this also viewed this".

Then's there's "Artist Essentials". Just getting into jazz but overwhelmed by the many choices for say, Ella Fitzgerald? Then check out her "Artist Essentials". It's just a static list, so how hard could it be to implement? But if you want an opinion from Netflix about the best movies of, say, Jim Jarmusch, well, you're just SOL.

All in all, I'd say Amazon's entry into this market will introduce some good competition, and we're all going to benefit.

DVD Rental Will Soon be Obsolete (2, Interesting)

north.coaster (136450) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279174)

Meanwhile, the cable companies continue to deploy video on demand. And it looks like TiVo will soon offer content programming downloads via the web [pvrblog.com] . Why would I want to rent DVDs?

Hopefully they'll bring it to Canada (1)

chrisbtoo (41029) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279181)

Since Amazon have already shown they're not entirely US-centric by doing DVD rentals in the UK and Germany, it'd be nice if they brought it up here too.

Canadians like movies too!

And the next article will be... (1)

B11 (894359) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279192)

Netflix sues Amazon for violating its patent on mail-delivered DVD rentals. (After the dupe of this article of course.)

Bogus job postings to mislead competitors? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279239)

This came to mind. Not necessarily the case here, but predicting a company's future actions based on job postings seems common.

  1. Submit bogus job openings
  2. Observe competitors think they know what you're up to
  3. Profit?

A reason Amazon may not succeed (1)

jvagner (104817) | more than 9 years ago | (#13279368)

is they don't know how to design a good-looking and easy to use website. Netflix's site is nearly perfect, but Amazon's pages are too complicated, tie in to too many things, and finding your way around can be too circuitious.

I'll admit they've improved a lot recently (their new book pages are great), but I think they've got too much historical cruft in the mix to be truly committed to good, simple interface design.

Amazon Worker == SCO Worker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13279375)

Amazon is becoming just as disgusting as SCO has been regarding their patents. They should be shown the same disdain as a SCO worker today.
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