Amazon ‘video on demand’ store to go live today

17 Jul 2008

Online retailer Amazon will today introduce a new online store where users can download TV shows and movies.

Appropriately enough, titled Amazon Video On Demand, the new store will kick off with more than 40,000 movies and TV programmes.

As soon as users order them, the programmes will automatically stream as opposed to download, as occurs on the Apple iTunes service.

But there is a catch. While the service is available on the internet to those users content to watch movies and TV programmes on their computers, Amazon has struck a deal with Sony Electronics to deploy the store straight from the internet to high-definition TVs.

In order to get the service directly piped from the internet to the TV, users will need to buy a US$300 Sony Bravia internet video link device.

Another catch is the service is only available to a limited number of invited customers before it opens broadly in the summer.

This is Amazon’s second foray into video on demand. Its first effort Amazon Unbox, a download-only store, flopped because it required special software to view content and only worked on Windows and TiVo devices.

This time round, the first two minutes of all movies and TV shows will begin playing immediately. It will also host the users’ choice of video in a section called ‘Your Video Library’, allowing the viewer to come back anytime and continue where they left off.

The launch of Amazon Video On Demand is the latest development in a week that has seen Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 platforms emerge as video stores of the future.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years