Amazon Prime Instant Video has hit a growth spurt again. This time, the major online retailer has signed a deal with Paramount. This is huge, because some of the most popular movies of all time come from this production company.
Forrest Gump, one of my favorite movies, is part of the list of newly added selection. Other well known titles include: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Top Gun, Mission Impossible 3, and Mean Girls. more. Mean Girls is another favorite of mine.
The benefits of paying for a separate Netflix plan are shrinking rapidly. For $79 a year, you can get free two day shipping, check out a book a month on your Kindle, and enjoy unlimited movie streaming. I take advantage of all three of these services quite frequently.
I’ve found some popular Kindle books such as the Hunger Games Trilogy in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. The downside is that you have to wait a month to get the next book in the trilogy. I’m okay with that, but I know many Hunger Games fan want to jump in to the following books immediately.
In addition to popular series, there are also a ton of books by independent authors that are fresh discoveries. Kindle Direct Publishing has opened up a new world of publishing, and has given many authors a chance to excel. In the past, authors were an elite group.
In the first half of 2012, Amazon Prime Instant Video has grown from roughly 13,000 to 17,000 titles, and is still growing. Earlier deals include Viacom and Discovery. These two production companies, along with Paramount bring an eclectic collection of movies that spans across many different genres.
Prime Instant Video is compatible with both PC’s and Mac’s. If you have a Kindle Fire, you can also enjoy them on there as well, for more portability.
Since just before the official announcement of the Kindle Fire, and clearly in preparation for the anticipated release, Amazon has been making efforts to beef up their Amazon Instant Video selection. Many of these new acquisitions have even been made part of the Prime Instant Videos library, which allows customers subscribing annually to the Amazon Prime service to stream available content to any compatible device whenever they want with no additional purchase necessary. More than anything, this is the reason that new Kindle Fire owners find themselves enjoying a month of free Amazon Prime membership. It works well to get potential subscribers hooked. More and more, however, people have been viewing the ever-expanding collection of titles as a direct assault on Netflix.
As the most popular video streaming service on the internet today, Netflix caters to over 24 million subscribers and accounted for about a third of all internet bandwidth being used as of last fall. They have had some issues recently after mishandling the publicizing of rate hikes necessitated by expiring streaming rights deals as well as a poorly thought out attempt to split the company into two separate entities specializing in only one aspect of the physical media and digital video combination that customers have come to expect, but subscriptions have since rebounded and there is little sign that they are in immediate danger.
When Netflix CEO Reed Hastings mentioned in a letter to shareholders that he is expecting Amazon to start breaking the Instant Video service away from Amazon Prime in favor of a monthly model more analogous to what Netflix is known for, it was finally enough to elicit comment from Amazon. Brad Beale, the Head of Video Acquisition for Amazon, made clear in a recent interview that it is not the intent of the company to change the way they’re handling things in the near future. He seems to have avoided implying that this was something that would never happen, but at least for the moment Netflix is safe.
The logic behind the decision is sound. Amazon Prime is already less expensive than even the cheapest Netflix subscription. The video content you get with it is not nearly as extensive at this point as what Netflix offers, but nobody claims that it is. By subscribing to Amazon’s service though, even if your goal is just to take advantage of the Kindle Fire’s integration with Amazon services, customers also get free 2-day shipping on anything Amazon sells. The video streaming might not be the biggest money maker in the world, but the associated shipping benefit has a tendency to make impulse purchasing far more appealing. This translates into more regular profits as well as customer loyalty.
Compared to that, it is hard to imagine a huge desire on Amazon’s part to start attacking Netflix on their own terms. For the moment, at least, video distribution appears to remain a relatively small part of the company. The Kindle Fire is obviously meant to change that and it does a good job of showing off the content, but the day when physical goods are less important to the company than digital sales has yet to arrive.
It was known well ahead of the official announcement for the device ever took place that the Kindle Fire would be intended for video more than anything else. Perhaps due to that pressure and perhaps just as part of an overall trend in the market, the Nook Tablet was designed along similar lines. While this doesn’t necessarily mean much on its own, it spurred along at least one other development that might mean a great deal more attention for the Android community as a whole.
Amazon’s intent to promote their own streaming video service is clear. Their library has been growing quickly over time, including many titles being given away “free” with Amazon Prime. This is naturally something of a concern for a company like Netflix that is suddenly faced with competition from somebody as big as Amazon. Although Netflix has not commented on it, something definitely spurred them along to push forward their new tablet app upgrade for Android weeks or months ahead of iOS.
The Nook Tablet practically relies on Netflix and other streaming services to function, all the more so because Barnes & Noble currently offers nothing analogous to Amazon’s video services. They also began advertising a uniquely deep connection with Netflix immediately following the reveal. As Kindle Fire owners have likely noticed by now, the Netflix app in the Amazon App Store isn’t exactly lacking either. They went for the maximum possible audience with this update and it seems likely to take.
The implications here go beyond benefits for owners of these new 7″ tablets, however nice those are to have. This is one of the first times that the Android platform has received special attention ahead of the iOS equivalent. That sort of thing does not happen without a fair degree of confidence in the potential profitability. If the Kindle Fire alone, or even the collection group of it and all of the competing $200 tablets springing up from companies like B&N and Kobo, is considered important enough to be prioritized ahead of the market dominating iPad then it could easily be a sign that tides are changing.
Part of the bar to Android’s widespread adoption in tablets has been the fact that quality development tends to get prioritized for the competition. Whether you blame it on the fragmentation of the ecosystem due to frequent non-mandatory upgrades, lack of faith in Google’s offering as a whole, or the lack of a truly major name product to line up behind, the situation has now changed. With luck, this will build up some momentum.
While I have nothing against Apple or the iPad, some heated competition would go a long way toward not only improving their product but creating some genuinely functional alternatives. The strength of iOS that everybody else lacks isn’t the iPad’s hardware or aesthetic. Its main virtue is the functionality that primarily comes from the Apple App Store. Neither the Kindle Fire nor the Amazon App Store is a match for Apple. It isn’t likely that a single company or product will be any time soon. What it does do is get the ball rolling, so to speak.
Move over cable television, the Kindle Fire is getting even more wildly popular apps: Hulu Plus and ESPN.
Hulu.com pulls together all of the latest TV show clips and available full episodes into one website. Hulu Plus is their subscription based service that allows access to even more shows and movies. It is better than Netflix in some respects because it provides access to TV shows soon after they air as opposed to months later.
ESPN shows live sporting events right on you Kindle Fire. I’m a big college basketball fan, so I am especially excited about the prospect of taking the games with me wherever I go. The only drawback is that you have to sign in using your cable provider account. So, not everyone can use it.
Hulu Plus and ESPN join Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, Pandora, and a slew of popular games to make up a pretty powerful set of apps. A lot of these are free, but the ones that are pretty inexpensive.
Rumors and speculations are flying about how the Kindle Fire is set to knock the iPad off the top of the tablet market list. I don’t doubt that Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has the tools and ability to do it. They also have a great reputation for top notch customer service, and for having much more cost friendly products than the majority of major retailers.
Right now, the major advantage to the Kindle Fire is price. The iPad has the history and larger app store. However with the addition of all of the major apps like Hulu, ESPN, etc, will set the Kindle Fire up to be some pretty hot competition. I will be very interested to see what Apple does in response. In the past they have typically come back with a better product touting improved features without budging too much on the price.
I’d love to see a future 10* Kindle Fire that includes a robust app store, external keyboard compatibility, and a reasonable price. This future version might just become reality quite soon.
I’m eager to hear what new Kindle Fire owners have to say about the tablet once they get to finally try it out. Will the user interface be intuitive and easy to use? Will colors be vibrant and sharp as the description boasts? All are questions that will be answered on the fast approaching November 15 release date. Let the games begin.
Clearly the Kindle Fire is creating some buzz in the tablet community, and among people who just generally like these sort of gadgets in general. With the announcement of the new Nook Tablet, though, some people had started looking more closely into potential shortcomings for the Amazon offering and quite possibly the biggest one was the external services tie ins.
While the Nook Tablet is completely giving up on offering its own unique video service in favor of letting customers find their own way among companies like Hulu, Netflix, Rhapsody, etc., Amazon kept touting their own library selection and the advantages inherent in the integration with this library. Surely, the thinking goes, Amazon would be pointing out that they were allowing seemingly competing companies a place on their new device if such were the case. I’ve often seen this cited as a reason for the Nook Tablet’s superiority since that device was announced, in fact.
Naturally this relies on incomplete information. As I have mentioned previously, companies like Netflix and Pandora were among the few to have preview copies of the new Kindle Fire before it was officially announced and blocking access to the services these companies offer was never indicated in any way. To head off these rumors, Amazon issued a press release this week emphasizing the large selection of media based apps that we can expect to see ready for their new tablet.
In the week to come, Hulu Plus and ESPN ScoreCenter apps can be expected to appear in the marketplace. A Netflix app is confirmed as well. There will be games from popular developers like PopCap, Zynga, and EA. A number of music streaming apps from companies like Pandora will be around as well. Across the board every effort has been made to draw in app developers who might bring customers what they want on the new device regardless of how that might cause increased competition for Amazon’s own products in the long term. Pretty much the only apps you are unlikely to see on the Kindle Fire are those from more direct competitors like Apple and Barnes & Noble.
It also demonstrates Amazon’s fairly impressive confidence in their own offerings, when taken with everything together. As a digital retailer, Amazon serves up games, movies, music, and eBooks to Kindle Fire users. The fact that they still anticipate making money off of the device, which they are selling at or near the cost of manufacture, indicates faith that customers will find value in what is being offered. I would say that this has to be based on more than simply the convenience of one-click buying integration throughout the interface.
Amazon will continue to inspect all of their App Store submissions before releasing them for the Kindle Fire, but clearly this will not be to weed out the competition. Users will enjoy the full benefits that a tablet like this has to offer, which should reassure some people who have been hesitant to join up with a platform that may have seemed at first glance to be considering emulating the Apple model. No more reason to hesitate over this matter.
As many of you know, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has its own Android based app store that offers a free app every day. The Kindle Fire is set to release on November 15 with a huge selection of popular apps including Pandora, Netflix, Facebook, and games from top gaming companies including Electronic Arts, PopCap and more.
Amazon is set to go with everyone’s favorite apps right out of the gate. That’s pretty impressive considering how long it took the iPad to get a Facebook app. But, in Amazon’s case, a precedent has been set in the android market. Whereas the iPad was the first to enter the tablet market, and is the only tablet using Apple’s app store.
EA and PopCap are known for high quality games. A few favorites include Scrabble, Tetris, and Peggle. Tetris has been a huge hit since the beginning of gaming systems. Rovio is also on board, and they’re the makers of the hit game Angry Birds. What is a tablet without Angry Birds?
Netflix and Pandora are other top apps that are available across tablet and smartphone platforms, so they are a natural addition to the Kindle Fire collection. Amazon also has its own video streaming library for Amazon Prime members set to rival Netflix. Pandora and Rhapsody are the major players in music apps.
As far as apps go, one niche that Apple has a good hold on is Accessibility. There are apps for the iPad that serve as decent and much cheaper alternatives to assistive technology. I just downloaded a magnfying glass and a recorder recently. There are also caption services, and so much more. I haven’t seen as much of this on Android systems, or on the Kindle in general. It would be great to see apps that help people with vision, hearing, mobility, and learning disabilities. Just another way to heat up the competition against Apple.
For more information on what popular apps will be available on the Kindle Fire, check out the latest Amazon press release.
Amazon’s new Kindle Fire is built for devouring content. Even if you weren’t going to make that assumption based on Amazon’s place as a general digital content retailer, the size of the tablet and the details released in the marketing make that clear. What is less clear is how thoroughly Amazon is planning to lock down their new toy to force customers to buy from them.
This line of thinking has led some customers to wonder whether it will even be possible to access content from vendors besides Amazon. To put that to rest, yes you will be able to load up just about anything that the Kindle Fire’s hardware can support. While the hard drive might not be terribly large, offering just 8GB of storage space to users, if you can fit a file on there then you can probably run it. There is no reason to expect a complete content lock down.
What does seem plausible from a certain point of view, however, is that Amazon would be willing to lock out companies like Netflix that offer services similar to their own. Amazon has, after all, spent considerable energy in expanding the range of their Instant Video library over the past several months and much of that will be accessible through subscription based streaming options for Amazon Prime members. Given that, why would Amazon want to accommodate the competition?
Fortunately this is not the case. In an interview way back in September, Dave Limp, Amazon’s Kindle VP, said that Netflix was actually one of the very few companies to have access to a Kindle Fire prior to the device’s announcement. Amazon is pushing for maximum available content for their users and this includes subscription based providers.
Will this extend everywhere? Probably not. Companies like Netflix and Pandora offer streaming media rather than outright sales, which seems to render them safe from Amazon’s perspective at the moment. Purchasing options, such as Barnes & Noble in the case of eBooks or iTunes for movies, are unlikely to receive the same sort of treatment. At the moment the majority of Amazon’s video, music, and eBook libraries are centered around outright sales of titles and integrating with competitors along those lines is not quite as easily justified.
Users will still, of course, be able to side-load content from any source they desire. Bought some music from Apple? So long as it’s DRM free, there is no reason for you to avoid throwing it on your Kindle Fire. The same goes for eBooks or movies, of which all formats should be accessible from Apps available through Amazon’s Android App Store if not natively supported. I wouldn’t be expecting to see a Nook App for the Kindle Fire any time soon, but there are plenty of reasons to draw that particular line and plenty of ways to read an EPUB eBook, should that be what you have in mind.
Apparently Amazon has been working on a way to offer Amazon Prime customers a Kindle platform lending library experience similar to what Netflix users have come to expect. While this is in its extremely early stages and will depend on reaching agreements with publishers who have not been particularly fond of Amazon or the Kindle, if it were to be realized it would be a game changing addition to the eBook world.
It is important to note that this will be distinct from Kindle Library Lending. An Amazon Prime membership will not be required for Kindle Library Lending. This service would allow subscribers to access a certain number of titles per month, after which it is unclear whether these users would be cut off or given the option to pay overage fees of some sort. At launch, and possibly permanently depending on the eventual structuring, this service would be only for older works, leaving the bestsellers list alone in favor of less profitable titles that publishers would have less reason to object to.
Publishers are not terribly enthused by this idea, unfortunately. While Amazon has reportedly offered a substantial fee for any publishers who join in on the program, there are concerns. One, executives are apparently concerned that the idea of such a rental program would devalue their publications in the eyes of potential customers. Two, with Amazon already being in a highly influential place in the eReading world, many are concerned that such a program would alienate competing retailers.
The former concern isn’t exactly surprising in an industry that already seems to view libraries as little more than theft. The fee offered for participation would have to be substantial indeed to overcome the industry’s anti-lending attitude. As for the damaged relations, it seems shortsighted. If Amazon did pioneer a successful subscription based lending program, it would open the door for publishers to arrange similar deals with competing platforms. That relies on the assumption that the publishers do themselves a disservice by alienating their customers and will eventually have to give people what they want, which apparently is a difficult concept to swallow in many cases.
In all honesty, the fact that one executive defended their position by saying that “What it would do is downgrade the value of the book business” says to me that publishers still don’t quite get the fact that there are few inherent differences between the print and eBook mediums in most peoples’ minds. Just as public libraries don’t keep people from valuing books, being able to access a Kindle library equivalent wouldn’t change anything for the vast majority of customers beyond removing the need to worry about waiting lists and local availability of lend-able titles in the public library system.
Going along with a plan like this would be great publicity, make author back lists more accessible for potential customers, and quite possibly make the companies more money than would otherwise be the case on these titles, if the fee Amazon is offering is large enough. Shunning this sort of idea on principal does everybody a disservice.
At this point we know that the Kindle as a physical purchase is not where Amazon is looking to make their money. If anything, the fact that they have gone to ad support indicates that there has been a need to get inventive to further reduce prices while not actually losing money on every sale. Knowing this, we have to assume that the big focus will always be on selling the most content. With an emphasis on renting, lending, and sharing eBooks lately, though, is this a genuinely achievable goal?
Right now we are hearing about the fact that Overdrive will soon be bringing Kindle compatible library books. Definitely a selling point for Amazon, since up until now it has been a major complaint against the platform. We also now have textbook rentals that can save renters as much as 80% over the purchase price of the book. Between the two options, I’m seeing a theme forming and looking to other media rental business models that seem like they have a real chance of finding their way to the Kindle.
The obvious one would be the Audible.com approach. Get users to subscribe for a monthly fee, perhaps as a means of getting a cheaper or free eReader, which locks them into picking out a certain number of eBooks to add to their library on a regular basis. Amazon has experience with this one and it would certainly work as a way to reduce eReader prices even beyond what the Kindle w/ Special Offers has been able to do. I don’t think it will happen, though. For something like this to work, Amazon would have to be able to provide value to subscribers beyond what they have control over with the current Agency Model pricing. Lack of control means lack of options.
More likely, to me at least, is the Netflix model. Picture spending $10 per month to access as many books as you want, so long as you only have one checked out at a time. There would have to be some sort of artificially produced swap delay, of course, since otherwise subscribers could simply jump back and forth at will, but if the system only allowed a book to be checked out once per month or only allowed one change per day (which doesn’t seem unreasonable since the Kindle Store already generally provides sample chapters and this would only be for reading entire books) then it would work. The profit would be available since most everybody has periods where their reading tapers off in spite of best intentions, and one would have to assume that an arrangement for multiple-use licenses would still be cheaper overall than per-user purchases. If something like this could be managed in spite of the total control that publishers want over their distribution, it would be the next big thing for the Kindle. Admittedly, it is something of a divergence since reading has always had a certain element of collection attached to it for many people, but I think the opportunity to save the money would make all the difference.