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Unbox Too Restricted and Too Expensive?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the reaching-for-features dept.

185

abb_road writes "Businessweek takes a first look at Amazon's new video service and walks away unimpressed. Between the high cost of downloads, the sometimes-poor video quality and the restrictions required by movie studios, they're not predicting a huge hit. From the article: 'Amazon finally launched its long-awaited online video service on Sept. 7. But it's no sure thing that it will catch on with the masses. The service, called Amazon Unbox, offers downloads of movies and television shows, as well as digital movie rentals. But like all its rivals, it's shackled by a raft of viewing limitations imposed by movie studios.'"

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185 comments

And...? (4, Insightful)

Rendo (918276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067752)

What do you expect? The movie industry is full of greedy suits that will try and squeeze as much out of the consumer as possible before the consumer just flat out says no. It worked for the music industry, but I seriously doubt this will ever take off with the movie industry. It's far easier, and cheaper, to just torrent movies and get better quality videos from cams. That's right, I said it, cams.

Re:And...? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16067953)

> The movie industry is full of greedy suits...

Every industry is full of greedy suits, shit floats everywhere.

Re:And...? (3, Informative)

hpavc (129350) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068062)

At the price they want its not providing me a unique or value added service to warrant it. The roll out sucks, they still lack a delivery mechanism that makes it gee-wiz as well. I basically want my money back from the one purchase I made.

If they had an itunes-like client I already used which could download at bittorrent or even segmented multi-part speeds. I would be all over it.

Re:And...? (4, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068559)

"If they had an itunes-like client I already used which could download at bittorrent or even segmented multi-part speeds. I would be all over it"

Exactly. This sounds like iTunes all over again. For years there were sketchy mp3 downloading services charging outrageous prices for songs or free p2p programs battling with MPAA.

Then Apple came along and changed everything. They found a way to sell mp3s at a price people were willing to pay and with the power of the iPod became the 800-lbs gorilla of the whole internet music provider service.

I predict Apple will do the same thing again. It'd take very little effort for them to come out with a iTunes enabled DVD media player with hard drive for ~$199 that connects directly to your TV and has built-in wifi to connect to your existing broadband router that enables the downloading of full movies for a few bucks, or at least less than what Netflix and competitors charge (cheapest plan = $5.99/mo, 1 dvd at a time, limit of 2 a month). You can also transfer them to your iPod and watch them on the go.

Might even be DVR capable, or that could be the $299 model ;) and recorded TV or movies could be torrented to other such players so you could download shows from other iTunes DVRs saving Apple bandwidth.

This would be huge and carry Apple far beyond just a music provider, now they'd be in control of viewable media too, a new content provider, and with a direct broadband connection they could insert their own commericals at the beginning before playing movies, etc.

Apple would be unstoppable.

Step 2, 3? (2, Funny)

Apocalypse111 (597674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067762)

Looks like they have failed to successfully fill in the blank in Step 2, and will be unable to proceed to Step 3.

So is this what YouTube would be like if they decided to play along with the MPAA and charge subscription fees?

Bears repeating... (5, Insightful)

Prometheus+Bob (755514) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067767)

More expensive than other legal methods (just buying the dvd used), with more limitations (can't backup, can't play in normal dvd players). I can't understand why it won't do well!?

Netflix! (2, Insightful)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067856)

People fail to realize that Netflix is making money on what some would call an old-fashioned profit model: mail DVDs to people and they mail them back. They may spend millions and millions of dollars in postage (and impacted by postage hikes [seekingalpha.com], but they do not have these limitations. People also do not realize that YouTube is losing loads of money every month [economist.com]. Online video has a place, but it is not in replacing DVDs with DRM.

Re:Netflix! (2)

The_Spud (632894) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068093)

I read the linked article and the only proof offered for youtube losing tons of cash was this:

"A rival estimates that YouTube is losing more than $500,000 a month."


For all we know youtube could be making lots of money, not that likely admittedly but no one other than the u-tube people know.

o rly? (2, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068039)

And the counter-argument:

  • More expensive than other legal methods (just buying the dvd used): well, it's not more expensive than buying on Amazon itself as it calculates the savings for you and displays them. Yes you could buy the DVD used but so what, the convenience is worth it for some - I don't plan evenings when I feel tired and want to watch some TV weeks in advance, it just happens. And when it does I want to watch some episodes of 24 right there and then, if I can. I'm willing to pay more than getting a used DVD off eBay for that convenience.

  • With more limitations (can't backup, can't play in normal dvd players) - can't backup .... and? You couldn't backup DVDs for the first few years of their life either due to DRM and that didn't stop them taking over the world. I hypothesise that most people don't care; I know I never backed up any of my DVDs and I wouldn't care about backing up these movies either. I'd probably rent them instead. Don't play in normal DVD players ... yes this will have an impact and stop some people using the service. But lots of people already watch TV on their computers, it's no big deal.

  • I can't understand why it won't do well!? - video on demand probably will do well. Will it be Amazon Unbox? I do not know, and I don't care to predict based on the feelings of Slashdotters which is basically "doesn't work on a Mac/Linux, must suck". It might succeed, it might fail, but apart from being restricted to the US (moving there soon anyway) I haven't seen anything that'd stop me using it.

Now it may fail for other reasons ... too hard to use, poor quality, too slow or whatever. But I don't think the masses care about DRM. For many years you couldn't copy CDs; the CD-R and MP3 was not yet invented. Yet CDs did very well and didn't die. iTunes music store is doing very well despite being ridden with DRM and locking you in to Apple (one software player, one hardware player, one store, one company) far more than Windows Media does.

Re:o rly? (1)

Kemanorel (127835) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068447)

One slight nit to pick...

For many years you couldn't copy CDs; the CD-R and MP3 was not yet invented. Yet CDs did very well and didn't die.

Every CD player I've owned since the advent of the format had a cassette deck with a handy little record button. It may not have been a perfect digital recording, but it was good enough to make mix tapes long before CD-R rose to prominence.

Re:Bears repeating... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068162)

If you buy the movie, then they do allow you to back it up. You can't play it off the backup copy on a dvd player, but it will be backed up. Also you can redownload which sounds similar to audible.com Granted you can only put it on one portable device and not the most popular portable video play at that. Granted the latter part is probably due more to apple launching a similar movie service soon as well as not opening up their hardware.

I would say the biggest negative is that the rental copy can not be put on a portable device. To me the ability to rent a copy which can be put on a portable device would be the biggest reason to use this service, but alas they didn't get that done.

MPAA (4, Insightful)

x-kaos (213378) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067771)

We knew this was the case, to much drm and not worth the money. What I fear is MPAA spin saying "Oh, well we tried to sell downloadable movies, but no one wanted them. People would rather pirate instead." I think they could work, just not this way.

Re:MPAA (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067849)

What I fear is MPAA spin saying "Oh, well we tried to sell downloadable movies, but no one wanted them. People would rather pirate instead."

Why? They've already bought draconian anti-fair-use laws that make the fines for "copyright violation" high enough to bankrupt most upper middle-class families, along with punishments for breaking DRM comparable to murder. Even if they go whining to the government, what more do you fear they'll get?

They really can't get any more, with current technology. We have effectively "lost" as badly as we can, with only a few freedom fighters such as DVD Jon as the last holdouts. And the media cartels have only our growing hatred to show for it.

Re:MPAA (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16067913)

I can seem to think of plenty that they might want:
  • Broadcast Flag
  • Analog Hole legislation
  • Broadcaster's copyright
  • Remote key revocation
  • ???

Re:MPAA (1)

x-kaos (213378) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067921)

I guess I fear the MPAA using what I mentioned as yet another reason to jack up DVD prices, and add even more protection to the physical disks. I see what you are saying though.

Re:MPAA (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067950)

DVD prices (well, most of them anyway) are high but nowhere as insane as the price for music CDs. As for adding protection, they can't do much without breaking regular playback in standard DVD players (especially old ones). The best they can try is some auto-run crap that only works on Windows and that can be disabled by holding the shift key when you insert the disc (or did Microsoft remove that feature?).

Re:MPAA (5, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068075)

It's really hard to compare the price of DVDs and CDs. On one hand, I listen to at least 1 song from each of my cd's at least once a week, some albums I listen to every week. So I get a lot out of them. DVDs on the other hand, I may watch once a month (for movies anyway), and often only once or twice a year. Some movies i've bought and only watched once or twice, but since it's cheaper than renting it 3 times, I've decided to buy it. So, although music is much cheaper for them to produce, it's worth a lot more to me, and yet they still charge less than DVDs. DVDs aren't really that expensive considering how much you pay for a theatre ticket, or how much you pay to rent them.

Re:MPAA (4, Funny)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068283)

The funny thing about it is that you can be fined a (manageable enough) couple of hundred bucks for endangering ( or at least increasing the risk to ) lives by driving too fast, but endanger a massive corporation's profit margins, and you get fined tens of thousands of dollars- it just doesn't make any sense..... but then I'm preaching to the converted here.

Re:MPAA (3, Insightful)

DreamingReal (216288) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068273)

I don't think the movie industry would be so disingenuous. At the end of the day, this is all about money. They live and breathe in fear of the faceless internet "pirate" and that fear is leading them to be their own worst enemies.

Consider that most average users want a fair price and ease of use. DRM solutions eliminate the second want and the industry's greed eliminates the first want. Everyday that passes is a day where a potential customer will turn to bittorrent and filesharing for their movie needs. "The price is that much? Fine, I'll get it for free from Pirate Bay" or "I have to download another player, can't move it to my laptop, and need to buy it again when I reinstall Windows for the fifth time this year? Fine, I'll figure out how Azureus works and get it from there" could be typical reactions to these crappy online offerings. In the long-run, they are losing more money by turning away customers by not making this cheap and easy.

All their bought-and-paid-for legislation and new DRM technologies won't change anything. They will never be able to win this war on the technological or litigious battlefields. They will only win this when they make it so easy that your grandma could use it and it wouldn't bankrupt her in the process.

Re:MPAA (2, Insightful)

jbreckman (917963) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068685)

With the DRM, poorer quality, and extras missing, you actually get much less than if you bought the DVD. Therefore it should cost much less. It is as simple as that.

Who would pay the same price (or near it) for less features?

Surprised? (1)

quark101 (865412) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067791)

Is anyone honesty surprised at this? I for one am not.

Re:Surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16067936)

I for am shocked, shocked, by this! I wish you could see this over the internet- I had a monocle in my eye, but upon hearing that people might not flock to a digital movie service that costs as much as buying a physical disc but with none of the advantages and with DRM and compatibility issues that remove the advantages of digital distribution, that monocle popped right out! Jeeves, bring my smelling salts, for I am going to overcome with surprise!

Market share (1)

silvermerlin (1001326) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067798)

is this just another way for them to try to gain market snare or try to make the idea of movie downloads legal?

Re:Market share (1)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067854)

market snare?

It's a trap! [itsatrap.net]

Re:Market share (1, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067952)

As a previous poster pointed out, they can claim that they tried to go online with a legit service and it didn't work.

"So now, Mr. Congressman, you have no reason not to pass our new "Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act". Yes, I know that it requires the death penalty without due process for suspected infringers, and yes yes, the new Corporate Copyright Storm Trooper section of the bill may raise a few eyebrows but we need this to protect the artists so just sign it if you want your check."

Unbox Link (1, Informative)

in2mind (988476) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067806)

The story should have linked to the Amazon Unbox.Anyway,here it is:
UNBOX [amazon.com]

Re:Unbox Link (3, Informative)

execute85 (673573) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068065)

So kind of you to post the link with your own referid.

Here's a non-referral link for people who couldn't type in www.amazon.com/unbox [amazon.com].

Re:Unbox Link (1)

in2mind (988476) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068214)

Googling for "Amazon Unbox" returned only blog & news reviews instaed of the short link.

Even the short link [amazon.com] you posted again takes to http://www.amazon.com/b/?&node=16261631 [amazon.com] only.

Wonder why Amazon doesnt want to publicize a direct link.

Re:Unbox Link (1)

execute85 (673573) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068303)

Ah, but http://www.amazon.com/b/?&node=16261631 [amazon.com] is the internal URL for the unbox service. Notice all those video ads and the buttons to buy downloads. This is the mighty unbox site.

Amazon does this with all their sites: music, dvd, software, furniture, etc. You don't really get different web sites, just a section within amazon.

So if you ever want to get to Unbox, just use http://ww.amazon.com/unbox [amazon.com].

I had the same problem with googling until I just tried adding /unbox to the URL.

"Low Resolution" S-Video cable? (2, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067809)

When your content is DVD-quality, S-Video cable is plenty sufficient for carrying the signal.

Re:"Low Resolution" S-Video cable? (1)

dartboard (23261) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067860)

As long as you don't have HDTV and your player doesn't do upsampling, you're probably right. But there's a big difference between the output of a S-video signal and a composite 720p or 1080i if your DVD player supports it. I would hope that Amazon's player has these capabilities.

Re:"Low Resolution" S-Video cable? (2, Informative)

conigs (866121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068236)

Hate to nitpick, but I think you meant "component," not "composite." A composite cable is even worse thant S-Video, at least that separates the luminance and chrominance signals.

And since we're talking about video cables, did you know that component video cables are not RGB on DVD players (and most video equipment)? They're actually Y/Pb/Pr, which is fun, crazy math time!

Okay, I'm off my soap box now.

Re:"Low Resolution" S-Video cable? (2, Informative)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067905)

When your content is DVD-quality, S-Video cable is plenty sufficient for carrying the signal.

Correction - When you have an NTSC-quality TV, S-Video can provide as close to an optimal picture as you can get.

You can't, however, do progressive-scan over Y/C... Meaning that most newer DVDs will look considerably better over component (Y/Pb/Pr) or even digital interconects (when going to a display of sufficient quality, of course).

Re:"Low Resolution" S-Video cable? (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068123)

DVD is also capable of higher chroma bandwidth than S-Video offers. Even with interlaced NTSC, component is better than S-Video.

Re:"Low Resolution" S-Video cable? (1)

captaincucumber (450913) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068112)

Can someone explain what they meant about only being able to use S-Video with an MS Media Center PC? Don't Media Center PCs have DVI like every other computer in the world built in the last 3 years?

Re:"Low Resolution" S-Video cable? (1)

aonaran (15651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068239)

DRMed videos won't play on the DVI connector. That would be a hole in the DRM protection.

You need DVI with HDCP on both the computer and the monitor or HDMI to do digital transfer of the video. Most people with mediacenter PCs still don't have that kind of "secure" video setup.

Re:"Low Resolution" S-Video cable? (2, Insightful)

Fulg (138866) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068142)

When your content is DVD-quality, S-Video cable is plenty sufficient for carrying the signal.

Perhaps on SDTV, but on an HD set, component cables make a fairly big difference on quality, and allow for HD modes. There is also that nice auto-widescreen detection, so no hunting for the TV remote when the extra content is in 4:3...

Putting the whole quote in context:
A Windows Media Center PC can be cabled to a TV, but only through a relatively low-resolution S-video line. "The last piece of the puzzle is the connection to the television," says Thomas McInerney, CEO of video download service GUBA.
..perhaps Mr. McInerney hasn't heard of DVI cables? I have a DVI connector on my HDTV, and you can easily convert from DVI to HDMI for "recent" HD sets. You'll get a decent quality output on your TV (perfect output if you have an LCD set -- which I don't); you don't even need a special video card...

Where is the puzzle?

Unbox needs to reboxed and sent back... (4, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067817)

Not Mac compatible. No good. I'll wait for Apple. It'll be a more elegant solution anyway.

Re:Unbox needs to reboxed and sent back... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067975)

We won't have to wait for long anyway. It's Showtime on the 12th!

This is a surprise how? (2, Informative)

Hap76 (995519) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067829)

Pay DVD prices for downloaded movies (for which you pay the shipping while not getting the features of the DVD) which you can only use on two computers, which can taken away at any time without recourse, to which can be added ads and other "features" you don't want while giving features which you may want but can't keep? What a bargain.

Why do the movie studios think I actually want this? Why don't they realize that if they don't allow their customers to use their product as they wish (without redistributing it or publically displaying it - you know, like fair use allowed before the b%$&*rds neutered it), then customers will find ways to get their product for which they will not be paid at all nor over which they will have any control? And why did Amazon think their customers would actually want this?

Dumb@$$es.

It sucks already? (1)

UpInTheClouds (134855) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067859)

Jeez, slashdot doesn't even wait for the launch story to leave the front page before proclaiming it dead.

Re:It sucks already? (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067945)

We proclaimed it dead before the first Slashdot article went live!

This has been proclaimed dead by a site independent of Slashdot, so it must be true. Netcraft confirms it: Amazon Unbox is dying.

So I can buy a movie... (5, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067865)

...but I can't watch it on my TV.

I get to watch it on my monitor, which is fairly small.
In my office, where there's room for one, maybe two people.
On an uncomfortable chair instead of my couch.
And I get to pay more than an excellent condition DVD off of ebay, often as much or more than the DVD from Amazon, and probably more than the WalMart B&M down the road.

In return I get to avoid waiting the 2 days for shipping (which I get "free" from Amazon Prime), or driving the 4 miles to a local store.

I'm sorry, was there something I was supposed to enjoy about this transaction?

Re:So I can buy a movie... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067934)

I'm sorry, was there something I was supposed to enjoy about this transaction?
You're not the target market of this release. Unboxed is for masochists only, it's the test market -- and they are sure to enjoy it. You'll have to wait release 2.0, which is currently under the working title "Unchained." They're still working out the kinks left from taking out the part where they walk on you while wearing stiletto heels.

Re:So I can buy a movie... (2, Insightful)

captaincucumber (450913) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068133)

Also, you can't dump this movie on eBay when you get sick of it like you can with a regular DVD. You should think of this as adding $5 to $10 to the cost of the download because a real DVD has a resale value.

Re:So I can buy a movie... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068328)

Actually, that's exactly how I "rent" movies. I buy them occasionally, sometimes in a bunch from CH if I haven't signed up in a while, and usually average less than $10/disc including shipping (much less with CH). They go in my jukebox, and I eventually watch them, though it may take up to 2 years for that to happen. If I like it, I keep it. If I don't, it gets resold on ebay or amazon mktplace, often for between $8-$10 net of fees. It's cheaper than netflix, I'm (almost) never without a new movie, and I get to keep a copy of everything I like.

No Subtitles? (5, Informative)

methangel (191461) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067874)

I'm surprised nobody mentioned this. As a hearing impaired person, I rely on subtitles extensively. Basically, you don't even get the basic "features" of the DVD, or even regular cable show.

I'll stick with my Tivo and Giganews subscription, thank you very much.

I don't like to have my private parts managed (2, Interesting)

Wiseman1024 (993899) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067875)

...so I'll pass on this one. Just like I'll pass on Blu-ray and HD-DVD (unless pirated). Dignity > watching the latest movie.

If they offered files for purchase, I'd happily buy them. But I don't like streaming crap, digital restrictions management crap, propietary codecs and formats crap, etc. If I buy something, I must be getting a simple [b]octet-stream[/b]. No magic, no "final format", no "copy protections", no crap. That's the only format I accept.

Re:I don't like to have my private parts managed (1)

winnabago (949419) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068067)

Dignity > watching the latest movie.

Amen.

Soon, I hope, we'll see the emusic.com of movies. No DRM, no hype, tier B & independent films, occasional blockbusters. I'm here waiting for my download service. Anyone?

Hasn't this already been... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16067888)

With the number of articles that we've had to deal with in the past 72 hours about Unbox I think we get the point. Can we move on to something new already? Is it too expensive? That's for the consumer to decide. Let's move on and stop beating this dead horse.
 
The scope of what's news worthy on slashdot just keeps getting more and more narrow and we have to deal with articles that a couple of years ago would have been considered "near dupes" as fresh news? Get real.

Re:Hasn't this already been... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068377)

The scope of what's news worthy on slashdot just keeps getting more and more narrow and we have to deal with articles that a couple of years ago would have been considered "near dupes" as fresh news? Get real.

Three words. Katie Couric Effect.

Maybe this is what they want (1)

Damastus the WizLiz (935648) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067899)

It seems to me that they would do this sort of thing on purpose just to get people to go out and buy dvds instead. I can also see them using this to promote whatever HD formate the studio chooses to put disks out on.

I don't like to have my private parts managed (0, Redundant)

Wiseman1024 (993899) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067906)

...so I'll pass on this one. Just like I'll pass on Blu-ray and HD-DVD (unless pirated). Dignity > watching the latest movie.

If they offered files for purchase, I'd happily buy them. But I don't like streaming crap, digital restrictions management crap, propietary codecs and formats crap, etc. If I buy something, I must be getting a simple octet-stream. No magic, no "final format", no "copy protections", no crap. That's the only format I accept.

FIRST POST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16067912)

file was opEned

Free 1.99$ tv ep now to test, thanks to slickdeals (1)

nickfd (1001272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067914)

http://www.slickdeals.net/#p8050 [slickdeals.net] has a little blurp outlining that you can download a free tv episode (worth 1.99$) to try out the service for free. There isn't much selection, and the application you have to download doesn't work very well if you're behind a work proxy, so I have not been able to test to see if it even works. Does anyone actually have something good to say about this test?

Why does Amazon copy failure instead of success? (4, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067933)

I don't get at all. Why are companies so bent on copying failure instead of success?

DIVX disks played on ordinary DVD players, were time-limited, and cost less than straight DVDs. And failed.

FlexPlay disks played on ordinary DVD players, were time-limited, cost less than straight DVDs, and failed.

Amazon Unbox WON'T play on ordinary DVD player, won't play on my almost-spiffy almost-new Mac Mini, won't play on my wife's PC (Windows 98), wouldn't have played on the Hewlett-Packard PC my daughter's family uses (WIndows 2000 Home Edition) before it crapped out a few months ago, won't play on the spiffy new Mac Mini she replaced it with, apparently won't play on any portable video device... ...is time-limited, and costs about the same as straight DVDs.

And up to now I thought Jeff Bezos was a smart guy.

Re:Why does Amazon copy failure instead of success (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068031)

> And up to now I thought Jeff Bezos was a smart guy.

Maybe he'll start directing customer complaints at the studios and say "they made us make it so crappy".

Just a fantasy. Naw, he probably really did think people would go for this crap.

Re:Why does Amazon copy failure instead of success (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068066)

DIVX disks played on ordinary DVD players, were time-limited, and cost less than straight DVDs. And failed.

But DVDs which were protected from being "backed up" *rolls eyes* didn't fail. So, I don't see the causation you're trying to imply from correlation.

Amazon Unbox WON'T play on DVD player ... Mac .... portable player

Many people already watch TV or movies on a computer, Mac is still an insignificant part of the market (sorry, that's what the figures say ...), and who wants to watch a movie on a device with a tiny screen anyway?

Re:Why does Amazon copy failure instead of success (1)

gumbo (88087) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068115)

Many people already watch TV or movies on a computer

But I doubt it's anywhere near enough people to market a whole service to them.

who wants to watch a movie on a device with a tiny screen anyway?

Probably the same people who keep buying TV shows from iTunes, which seems to be doing very well. I don't understand the appeal either, but it seems like they're out there.

Re:Why does Amazon copy failure instead of success (1)

malkavian (9512) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068249)

DVD succeeded because of it's advantages over the existing media of the day. I.e. Video Tape.
The increase in both video and, most especially, audio quality was astounding.
From a fuzzy, often degraded video source with, at best stereo, to a crisp, reliable video source with 5.1 encoding that was crystal clear.
The light amount of copy protect on the DVD wasn't enough to prevent the market moving across to it, because of the benefits.

Currently (and it has been for quite some time now) it is possible for even the average person (with a PC, as most do) to back up a DVD. A quick search of the web will find a multitude of products that'll do the job with a click of a mouse.

The correlation I think he was trying to make was that comparable media, with reduced cost, but much higher restriction, have always failed, given no huge leap in quality (more than SD to HD). I think it's a reasonable statement for the GP to have made..

Re:Why does Amazon copy failure instead of success (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068299)

DVD succeeded because of it's advantages over the existing media of the day. I.e. Video Tape.

Right, but so does internet based video-on-demand. Choose from a large catalogue and have it there very quickly (if you stream it). It's more convenient than messing around with easily scratched disks. It's the same argument as online music store vs CDs. Whether Amazon actually give you all the advantages I don't know. But the potential is there.

The light amount of copy protect on the DVD wasn't enough to prevent the market moving across to it, because of the benefits.

Light?!? DVDs were armor plated! Not only heavily encrypted but also region protected and the specs were entirely secret and had to be reverse engineered. It took several years before CSS was broken, and even then, it was broken by exploiting a minor mistake in the key generation algorithm. If CSS had been just a little bit stronger it would have lasted far, far longer. Perhaps not even being broken today. People like to make out that the DVD protections were easy to break, but really, it involved a lot of luck. DVDs didn't start taking off when backup software came along. They were popular before that.

Re:Why does Amazon copy failure instead of success (1)

Dark_MadMax666 (907288) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068436)

Light?!? DVDs were armor plated! Not only heavily encrypted but also region protected and the specs were entirely secret and had to be reverse engineered. It took several years before CSS was broken, and even then, it was broken by exploiting a minor mistake in the key generation algorithm.

Wikipedia: The first DVD players and discs were available in November 1996 in Japan, March 1997 in the United States, 1998 in Europe and in 1999 in Australia.

Decss was released in octorber 1999. Several year if you look from japan's perspective ,but real mainstream use didnt being till 2001 . And there is no "minor" mistakes - all those " copy " protection techologies are impossbile in principle . you have to deliver a signal to a user eventually . -copy protection will never work on large scale .

Re:Why does Amazon copy failure instead of success (1)

patternmatch (951637) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068095)

DIVX disks played on ordinary DVD players, were time-limited, and cost less than straight DVDs. And failed.

DIVX disks would not play on ordinary DVD players. You needed a DIVX player for that.

Amazon Unbox...is time-limited, and costs about the same as straight DVDs.

Unbox rentals are time-limited, and they cost a buck or two. Purchases are not time-limited [amazon.com], and cost about the same as straight DVDs (e.g. $9.99 for The Matrix [amazon.com]).

Re:Why does Amazon copy failure instead of success (1)

aesiamun (862627) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068144)

DIVX needed a DIVX player which could play normal DVDs, but you still needed to buy the DIVX player first.

Re:Why does Amazon copy failure instead of success (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068169)

When Apple does it through iTMS they will be hailed as a success, though, despite having basically the same story. Sure they will support your mac minis but those machines constitute and insignificant portion of the market. The number of systems each will support will be essentially the same, and if your household had any PCs as modern as your underpowered minis you wouldn't be having such a problem.

Re:Why does Amazon copy failure instead of success (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068640)

iTunes isn't restricted to just Windows XP, right? It therefore automatically just gained almost the entire theoretical market (iTunes works in WINE by the way).

Anyone else notice? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16067939)

Anyone else notice that Business Week just called DRM by its more appropriate name:
Digital Rights Restrictions

I don't go in for what most of the whiney slashbot crowd does, but this one brings some glee to my cold little heart that a fairly popular magazine is helping to relabel DRM appropriately. I don't care what movie studios do to their products, but it offends me as a consumer when they try to lock my purchases up and tell me what to do with them after I own them.

I don't support the dirty theives that are too cheap to pay for music and movies, but it's also not my problem and if you're going to make me suffer because they're scumballs, I'm not going to buy your stuff either. Not only will the jobless wonders keep stealing from you, I'll just stop buying on top of it.

question is.... (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067967)

Will it be interesting enough for some enterprising Dvd-Jon type person come up with a crack for their DRM.

Once cracked, THEN you could burn DVD's, and move the media to use as you see fit...

Then it would be a worthwhile way to purchase media IMHO. Which of course the media producing companies will have no part it.

Re:question is.... (1)

gumbo (88087) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068024)

Once cracked, THEN you could burn DVD's, and move the media to use as you see fit... Then it would be a worthwhile way to purchase media IMHO.

I disagree. I still think it would be pretty worthless.

If I can pay the same price for the DVD, getting 5.1 sound and extras in the process, I'm not going to pay for the download even if I have the option of losing video quality and wasting time by re-encoding it to MPEG2 and burning it to DVD.

Re:question is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068061)

It's already cracked. It's just vanilla WMV DRM 10, which has already been cracked. Google FairUse4WM.

Have you guys even checked it out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16067980)

I'm hearing alot of nonsense about too expensive and broken drm and crappy video quality.... have you TRIED it? $24.99 for an entire sg-1 season happens to be alot cheaper than blowing my cap by 2gig trying to download it illegally from bit torrent. And the video appears to be just fine for anything that was originally available in a decent quality and format in the first place. Instead of bitching and moaning because of the presence of buzzwords and the like, how about you actually try the service before writing it off as a failure? Bloody whingy fanboys...

Re:Have you guys even checked it out? (4, Informative)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068033)

How can I try it?

It won't work on my computer (Mac Mini), my wife's computer (Windows 98), my son's computer (Windows XP... over dialup), my daughter's old computer (WIndows 2000 Home Edition), or my daughter's new computer (Mac Mini).

Will Amazon also give me a free trial of a brand-new PC (with 2.4 gigahertz processor, and a gig of RAM, and a "DirectX 9.0 complaint Video" [sic]?

Re:Have you guys even checked it out? (1)

ScaryFroMan (901163) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068258)

Are you honestly complaining that it won't play on a 7-year old OS? Or that it doesn't support a miniscule minority of computers? It'll work for 90% of the computers out there. It's your own fault. Not thiers.

Re:Have you guys even checked it out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068449)

Why did you post an almost identical comment twice? I mean, I agree with you, but you're not doing yourself any favors.

Re:Have you guys even checked it out? (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068300)

I appreciate the comments, because they tell me that I CANNOT try it out (don't have any box dumbed-down enough) and would not bother if I could, since I do not watch TV or movies on a computer. The big screen is for video (and a "fishtank" screen saver on a Mac Mini). The iBook is for when, at home, something piques my interest enough to get on the 'net without disturbing my partners' viewing.

Re:Have you guys even checked it out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068311)

...how about you actually try the service before writing it off as a failure?

Maybe because the product itself offers nothing that makes me think it serves any valid purpose in my life? Because, you know, I don't just run out and try every single new thing just because it's there. Smart consumers generally don't do that.

Just in case you're curious, here's why I have no interest in it:

1. My computer is nowhere near my TV, and I have no intention of watching movies on a 17" screen from a desk chair. I don't even know where anyone else watching it would sit since there's no other furniture in the room, and the only other chairs that can be reasonably moved are the dining room chairs which are hardly meant for hour and a half sessions.

2. I already have at least three players on my computer: WMPlayer, DivX, PowerDVD. I have absolutely no intention of getting yet another one just to play one freaking file type that uses the same anti-rights technology as WMPlayer anyway.

3. I can't play it in my portable DVD player when I'm on the bus.

4. All that, and I only have to pay the same amount as a perfectly useable used DVD that has none of those problems.

The only possible benefit would be that it's available on-demand, but #1 precludes me from finding that useful in this particular application of the concept, and I can already walk right around the corner to Blockbuster anyway, or order on-demand movies (albeit, with a much poorer selection) through my digital cable subscription.

In short: this product is inferior to used DVDs in every way and costs just as much, so why, exactly, would I want to give it a chance? If someone invents chalk flavored ice cream, should I "give it a chance" too just because it's new, or would a smarter person maybe think "hmmm... I'll bet chalk doesn't taste good, and I'll bet chalk flavored ice cream is probably in the same boat there. I think I'll get chocolate instead since it costs the same and I already know I like it" and not waste the money?

Hmmm... (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16067994)

I have enough technology at work that I don't need much of it at home, so maybe I'm out of touch with what "the masses" have.

But are there really a significant number of people with the computer-large screen integration to make this program useful? The article brings that point in at the end, but I wonder how much overlap there is between the Media Center crowd and the non-P2P'ing-everything-anyway crowd.

What were they thinking? (1)

gumbo (88087) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068005)

I got worked up enough to write up a rant about Unbox's pricing and lack of features [fakerake.com] (come on, who wants to watch V For Vendetta without 5.1 sound?) before seeing that I was late to the bash-Unbox party. Oops.

If it's not just me, and everyone's first reaction is "oh my god, how much does this idea suck?" you really have to wonder about their motivation, and you start putting more weight into the theories that this is so the studios and MPAA can say "see, people just don't want to pay for movie downloads."

But I don't think that's the case. I think Amazon is expecting that my reaction and the typical technologically informed person's reaction aren't going to be universally shared. The average consumer who is thrilled to be paying for DRM music downloads is another issue. Of course, you'd still think that that person would much rather have a DVD they could watch on their TV without having to figure out how to hook their computer up to their television...

I still keep coming back to "what the hell were they thinking" on this one.

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

execute85 (673573) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068111)

Yeah, but the average consumer doesn't want to watch tv shows and movies on their computer. This service is for early adopters who don't mind a laptop or monitor for viewing video.

ITMS has only sold 35 million shows in the last year. That's pretty decent, but still only early adopter numbers. And ITMS plays on ipods and QuickTime.

Unbox is for nerds and nerds don't want special players and stupid DRM.

I noticed they are supposed to integrate this into MS' Windows Media Center, but couldn't find out anything substantial on how to do it.

At least it's more competition for Apple and google video.

Re:What were they thinking? (1)

gumbo (88087) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068186)

This service is for early adopters who don't mind a laptop or monitor for viewing video.

I was thinking it was more for early adopters who already have a computer hooked up to their TV and sound system, acting as a DVR or HTPC (like me.)

Unbox is for nerds and nerds don't want special players and stupid DRM.

Right (like me). This is why Unbox just doesn't make any sense to me.

Moo (3, Insightful)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068045)

The nice thing is, they did it. Even if it fails, someone else will try again. Eventually it will work.

It's simple. People want to download movies. Paying for it is not the issue, as many people will say. It's just plain old availibility.

The companies would love it if noone could watch a movie outside of a theatre, and would only sell long dead movies. The people think theatre's are a nice experience, but that is added on top of viewing the movie itself. And, if you don't like the theatre, or going to a theatre is cumbersome or not feasable, or even watching the entire movie in one shot is not desirable, the movie needs to be availible elsewhere. Also, people are willing to pay a premium to watch it the first time, but not the second, third, or more. Being many people who download movies have already seen it in the theatre, charging a premium at home would alienate that subset of potential buyers.

That's where this service comes in. They set up a mini-theatre in your house with some control (although, they own the process and restrict its use). This is what people don't like. But, it also means its happening. For Amazon to get this far, means that the industry recognizes the need. It's a large step, though perhaps not large enough for the consumers. The point is, it will happen. Eventually. And the more the industry holds back, the more piracy will pound them on the side.

So be happy. The child has taken his first step.

This needs accompanying hardware! (2, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068047)

Arguments about price and DRM limitations aside for a moment, it occurs to me that Internet-based movie downloads won't really take off unless there's a piece of hardware accompanying the thing. Tivo, for example, should have partnered up with Amazon or someone else doing this and said "Ok - we'll send down a free firmware upgrade to all of our users, and then our boxes will be able to browse your movie catalog and order up content on-screen, saving it to the hard drive in the unit. Meanwhile, the user will be free to watch existing content while it downloads in the background."

The overall business model works a lot better for music downloads, because A) They're smaller and take a lot less time to download, B) Every single user of a portable digital music player has to learn to sync it with a PC in order to load it up with music, so a PC is a logical "starting point" for receiving that type of content, and C) Many more people are comfortable burning a standards-compliant audio CD from a PC for use in their home or car stereo than are comfortable burning DVD movie content that plays properly on their stand-alone players.

If it was really commonplace for people to use their computer as a media center attached to a TV and surround sound stereo receiver, then this might go over a little bit better. But it's not! Half the people buying new computers with "Windows Media Center edition" preloaded on them don't even use the TV playback and recording capabilities of it. They just went with it because the whole bundle was on sale....

50% Of The Problem Is MPEG-4/H.264 +VC-1 Suck (0, Troll)

cannuck (859025) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068076)

Of course the idiots running the movies studios are half the problem - but the other half of the problem are the idiots running Apple, Microsoft and other monpolistic enterprises. The VC-1 video from Microsoft sucks badly while Apple's + DIVX+ Xvid MPEG-4/H.264 suck almost as badly as VC-1. Here's a quote from a comparative research piece - notice that Apple and other companies compressed their own videos for the study:

RealVideo Best Video Codec, Followed by Apple's H.264, Flash and Windows Media, Says New Report from StreamingMedia.com

The reports provide an objective counterbalance to the hyperbole coming from both the Flash and H.264 camps. One of the key findings from the Proprietary report, for example, was that the quality of the best Flash and H.264 codecs still trailed RealVideo, often by a significant margin.

"While the progress of H.264 and Flash codecs has been impressive," quipped report author Jan Ozer, "rumors of the demise of all other codecs have been greatly exaggerated."

??

To research the reports, Ozer produced a 6-minute test file composed of 38 scenes representing typical business, sports, and entertainment videos, along with several animations and still image pans and zooms. The reports analyzed video quality in up to five configurations--modem, 3GPP, 100 Kbps, 300 Kbps and 500 Kbps--and compared frame quality, temporal and color quality, and playback smoothness. Buyers can download all videos and still image files used in the analysis, along with a convenient interface for viewing the video files and still images.

Proprietary Codecs, 2006

??

Beyond the depth and scope of the analysis, the Proprietary report has several unique aspects. For example, the files used to compare the technologies were encoded by Apple, Microsoft, and RealNetworks to ensure optimal quality. The report also compared the quality of prominent encoding tools such as Autodesk Cleaner XL, Canopus ProCoder, and Sorenson Squeeze, finding a significant disparity between the tools.

??

In addition to Real's superior quality, the report found that Windows Media had started to fall behind.

"With Microsoft's recent success in standards bodies, we expected quality to be at or near the top," commented Ozer, "but usually it was at or near the bottom. Companies using or considering Windows Media really need to evaluate other technologies."

(Is that why Waggoner and other Microsoft employees are hanging out with the "pirates" at Doom9, trying to convince the "pirates" that VC1 isn't as bad as it seems?)

The second report, "Flash Codecs, 2006" compared different companies' Flash Video offerings. StreamingMedia.com concluded that On2's VP6 codec came out on top when compared to Wildform and Sorenson Spark, but that "there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for Flash producers," according to Ozer.

http://www.streamingmedia.com/press/view.asp?id= 4336

Re:50% Of The Problem Is MPEG-4/H.264 +VC-1 Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068337)

Anonymous response to the troll...

Just so you know, Apple's h.264 is a neutered version of the real thing. It doesn't even support B-Frames for cripe's sake. Full-out h.264 implementations (OSS ones include the libavcodec decoder and the x264 encoder) are actually REALLY good. For normal web distribution (pushing the compression just to the point where noticable artifacting starts to appear), I can get 320x240 video down to 128k in many cases. The AUDIO starts to become a problem at that point since there are very few audio codecs capable of sounding decent below 32k.

Apple's h.264 implementation was designed early on to forgoe support of many features in exchange for speed. This is why you can watch 1080p on an only marginally fast PC with it. 1080p with every x264 encoding option turned on will bog down even the fastest PCs in many cases.

Not enough news out there? (1)

danfromsb (965115) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068119)

Are we really running out of articles so bad that slashdot has to repost yesterday's news? Ok, so some Businessweek first looks says it is bad, sheeeeeesh we already knew that! Look at the comments yesterday! Are we going to start posting slashdot comments as articles now?

I'm telling ya.... (1)

cttforsale (803028) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068121)

$5 for 700mb Xvid movie. $1 per TV show. That's the magic number/size/encoding/price. Now do THAT.

Why is it... (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068157)

that studio executives impose restrictions on their products that
I strongly doubt THEY would accept if they were buying those products?

Standards for DRM? (1)

PopeZaphod (651956) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068374)

I'll never use Unbox because I own a Mac and an iPod. I'm assuming Apple's version of buying movies online will work on Macs and Windows PCs running iTunes/QuickTime, which makes it more compatible than Unbox but leaves out "Plays for Sure" devices (and other non-Apple portables) and Linux boxes.

Why do Microsoft and Apple both insist on force-feeding customers their proprietary DRM solutions? If the recording, motion picture, and television industries insist on DRM for digital content, the very least these companies can do is settle on a standard format. But it looks like no one learned anything from the VHS vs Betamax years, so we have Windows Protected Media from MS and FairPlay from Apple, and we have the option of sinking thousands of dollars into HD-DVD or Blu-Ray. Such a waste of time.

Use the negotiating power of the masses (1)

nohup (26783) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068465)

Here's your chance to let Amazon know you don't appreciate the draconian DRM they have included in their video service. If you log in to your Amazon account, you can send email to customer service. Since you'd be sending an email directly from your account, they will know that you are indeed a loyal customer that has purchased content from them in the past. Let's let them know what we think about this new DRM service. Here's my email to them:

To Whom It May Concern:

I have been a loyal customer of yours for many years. You can verify this since I am sending this from my customer account. Now I see you are offering this new Unbox video service. I am deeply frustrated by the fact that the service is so limited by DRM technology. I am a tech-savvy person. I have built my own media computer attached to my TV to manage all of my media. This computer runs Linux. With your video service, there is absolutely no way I can watch my videos the way I would like to.

I can't even express to you how upset and frustrated I am by you offering this crippled service. I refuse to buy videos from your new download service. At least buying a DVD I can control my own content and play it where I like. I don't have to worry about always being issued a license everytime I want to watch my movies.

I know your contracts with movie companies probably compel you to put these draconian protection measures in. However, are you aware how upsetting it is to your loyal customers that you don't trust us to be able to handle our own content? Many of us feel that the pirates will find a way around these measures anyway. Please don't insult us by taking away our privileges because of the few.

Perhaps you could compromise in the way Apple has with their Itunes service. It contains DRM, yet we can still burn the music to a CD, thus freeing us to be able to do with the content as we please.

Thank you for your time.

Wanted: Fair downloadable commercial movies (1)

dw604 (900995) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068493)

It'll be a while - I'm with Ben Affleck on this one... ;)

mod dohwn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16068581)

some of you have Pref3raably with an

How can anyone say it is too expensive (3, Funny)

DrXym (126579) | more than 7 years ago | (#16068627)

Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow for $13.99 is a positive bargain!
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