Amazon’s Prime service has many benefits. Consumers get fast free shipping from Amazon, which many are willing to pay for in and of itself, and in addition, they get a Netflix like service for streaming tv shows, movie and music. You also get access to a free e-book library and unlimited online backup for your photos. All for $8.25 per month in the US.
Netflix is a comparable video on demand (VoD) offering that delivers a very similar video and TV show streaming service for $8.99 per month. If all you want is streaming video, Amazon has one major benefit that Netflix can’t touch – the ability to buy or rent movies and watch them instantly, if they’re not part of the free package. This means you have about every movie or TV show that is in digital format available to you. Amazon’s total library dwarfs that of Netflix.
So how does Apple come into this?
It used to work like this: “Hey, let’s watch [some show that was just released]!” “Yeah, let’s do it!” cheers everyone. “Oh, it’s not on Netflix, we’ll have to rent it from iTunes.” Everyone pauses while the TV is switched from Netflix to iTunes – in some cases this means finding the cord to hook the computer or iDevice up to the TV. No longer. Open the Amazon app, launch the show. Maybe it’s free with Prime, maybe it’s not free, but the barriers to rent are almost zero.
In my house, Amazon has absolutely 100% replaced iTunes as the go-to service for renting movies. Apple simply doesn’t have a compelling product. We already use Amazon to watch a lot of free shows available free with Prime, so when Big Hero 6 launched this week, we had a family night and it was Amazon that provided us with our entertainment.
My family is almost purely Apple. We have iPads, iPhones, an iPod and Mac Books. And now, an Amazon Fire TV plugged into our TV. We play games with it, we watch PBS kids on it, we use it for Netflix and, of course, we use it for Amazon Prime. We’re not the only ones – Apple’s digital revenue from iTunes music and video has dropped, with some estimates siting 14% lower revenue in 2014 vs 2013, which itself was lower than 2012. However, Apple doesn’t break out their data separate from their App Store sales, which makes it difficult to get accurate numbers, since the revenue related to apps has been climbing.
One thing I love about Apple, though, is that it is very consumer focused. They listen to users and they watch industry trends. They know what’s happening. They have the massive library of VoD content in the iTunes store. They have a digital music streaming service, Beats. They have a great set-top box (though not as good as the Fire TV in my opinion, primarily due to it’s walled garden of apps). They even have a great library of e-books. They have everything they need to create a competitive offering to Prime.
This is the company that releases a new mobile operating system like clockwork every year, and has done multiple additional product launches throughout each of the last few years. This is a company that has all the features of the best streaming service, but only lacks a subscription model. I think they can get it done. As a matter of fact, I’ll be absolutely stunned if it doesn’t happen this year, and I will not be surprised to see this happen on March 9th.
Of course, we thought they would do the same thing with their March 7, 2012 announcement as well, and they didn’t.