Friday, September 5, 2008

Reflecting on Amazon's VOD Initiative

So, we now have a new alternative to Apple iTunes, Netflix and Hulu. Amazon has launched its video on demand service. It will stream to Windows, Macs, Sony TVs with Internet conenctions, TiVo devices as well as Xbox 360. Now, we will have to wait till next Tuesday (Sept 9) to see what Steve Jobs will announce to further shift the goal-post.
From a network-strategy point of view, what's key is how well does Amazon orchestrate multiple networks? So, I am interested in the following indicators besides the obvious one about pricing and advertising-supported subsidy.
1. How extensive is Amazon's content library?
2. How exclusive is the content? (What content--if any--is only available here?
3. What content is not available? (for example some of the NBC shows are not available on iTunes because of prior contract disputes)
4. How sticky are Amazon's customers with this service compared to being part of two or more services?
Then, there is the technical issue of seamlessly moving content across multiple devices within home and portability of content (cell phone, laptop etc.) without violating digital rights.  The media and entertainment network is changing fast and Amazon's initiative is significant because of its distinctive recommendation engine.  Sure, Netflix is good at recommending possible movies that may interest me. But, Amazon may be able to do across all my purchases and interactions on its website. Google may be able to recommend based on my broader searching profile and so on. So, what will Apple do to close this gap?   Apple has clear design lead but how good is it in recommending movies? I have not seen a good systematic comparison of the different recommendation engines but winners in the converged network will have distinctive advantage based on consumer preferences and habits....

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