Amazon has jut launched their video download service, consisting of both movies ($10 – $15/ea to purchase) and television shows ($2/ea). Purchased shows can be archived to DVD, but are not playable on set-top boxes. Rented movies must be watched within 30 days, and once started must be completed within 24 hours like similar services (Movielink, CinemaNow). Amazon’s video player only runs on flavors XP, presumably built around Windows Media Player using Microsoft DRM as video files are Window Media Video (WMV). Amazon provides a FAQ explaining the terms of rental versus ownership, file size, download times, etc. They say they support portables, but I wasn’t able to find any detailed info at this time — I assume support will be limited to the usual suspects running Windows portable media software such as the Zen Vision and Gigabeat S. One interesting factoid… if you accidentally delete a movie you’ve purchased you can download it again from an online “media library,” a feature iTunes sorely lacks.
I’m still not convinced there’s a large market for movies delivered in this fashion unless you’re running an HTPC (or FrontRow once iTunes adds movies next week) connected to a TV or projector. There’s also a small market of road warriors who might put this to use along with curious early adopters — but I continue to fantasize of a TiVo/Netflix collaboration which delivers a wide selection of movies to my TV. In the movie download space, Vongo still leads the pack with their all-you-can eat movie rental plan for only $9.99/mo.