updated 04:50 pm EDT, Thu September 7, 2006
Amazon Unbox Movie Store
Plans by Internet retailer Amazon to launch a direct-download movie service have been public knowledge for some time. Nevertheless, much anxiety was put to rest late today when the company formally launched its first venture into direct video downloads. Titled Unbox Video, the store offers full-length movies, television programming, and other content from over 30 networks and studios. Pricing compares directly to existing stores such as CinemaNow and MovieLink, but is characterized by its flexibility: movies are available at $15 for new releases and $8 for older titles, while any movie can be rented for $4. Television shows are available for $2 each. Buyers receive two separate Windows Media Video files in a single purchase, one of which is intended for portable media players such as Microsoft's future Zune. Amazon's store launches almost immediately ahead of Apple's movie-related special event on September 12th, which is expected to mark the debut of a widely anticipated iTunes movie store that will challenge Amazon directly.