Talking tech since 2003

I absolutely love Amazon.  If there was ever such thing as an “Amazon fanboy”, then I am most definitely the living breathing definition of one.  What once started out as a simple book store has emerged to become so much more; a full-blown online store that sells just about everything you can imagine, a web host and remote server provider, and a major innovator in the e-book arena.  With all of the success that Amazon has had thus far, it’s no surprise that I listed the retailer as one of the three companies that could afford to take gambles in 2011.

One of the great services that Amazon offers to show their appreciation for their more frequent customers is a service called “Amazon Prime.”  Priced at $79 per year, Prime allows customers to receive unlimited free two-day shipping on all of their eligible orders regardless of the size.  For many who frequent Amazon, this deal is a big money-saver as it eliminates the shipping payments when an individual purchases an item.  However, up until now, Amazon Prime has been nothing more than a way to save money on shipping.

As of yesterday though, Amazon has added a nice little perk to its Prime service by allowing new and existing Amazon Prime users unlimited streaming certain movies and television shows directly to their computers and supported home entertainment system.

This move is definitely a wise one for Amazon.  You see, by focusing on streaming more than physical product, the company will cut their costs significantly.  Think about it this way; if you are an Amazon Prime customer and you buy a DVD from Amazon, they swallow the shipping costs as part of the Prime service.  By streaming the content, Amazon has the potential to save simply because of the incredibly low cost of bandwidth in this day in age.  Moreover, because of Amazon’s existing infrastructure – not only in their own retail operations, but with Amazon Web Services as well – I believe it’s safe to say that Amazon is able to stream content at very cost-effectively.

With bandwidth being the least of their worries, Amazon’s big dilemma in this situation is the fact that their stealable media library is incredibly low.  I recently canceled my Netflix subscription because of how little content was available for streaming, and found that Amazon has significantly less content available.  Seriously.  I don’t think there was one movie available that I couldn’t find in the bargain DVD bin at my local warehouse store.  This issue likely revolves around their lack of contracts with producers and the owners of such content, and I am sure that Amazon is in the works to get more content available.  After all, without content they have no chance at competing with services such as Netflix and Hulu.

At the end of the day, I honestly wouldn’t buy an Amazon Prime subscription based solely on the availability of streaming media because it simply is not worth it.  Regardless, I think this is a major step in the right direction, and that Amazon has put themselves in a position to be successful with the future of television.

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