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September 2006 Archives

Unbox unbaked?

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Seems to me that Amazon has missed the boat with its new Unbox movie download service, or, perhaps more accurately, has missed their opportunity to strongly differentiate their offering from everyone else's.

You see, Amazon owns the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), and if you've ever gotten lost in this site you probably realize that they are sitting on what is arguably the most extensive repository of metadata related to movies and TV shows in the world (and, with the IMDB Pro version, there's even more data that the average user never sees). IMDB recently increased the granularity of information on the TV side down to the episode level. so, whether looking at a movie entry, or an episode of a TV show, this is a huge opportunity to do immediate sale of downloadable content. But IMDB isn't doing that.

Take Stanley Kubrick's classic interpretation of Stephen King's The Shining as an example. Unbox offers the video for sale via download here and IMDB catalogues the movie here. A quick comparison does show that Unbox draws its metadata from the IMDB, but Unbox doesn't allow you to drill down into the IMDB data. So... if I want to know more about Jack Nicholson (and IMDB knows more about Jack and his career than his own mother), I get nowhere. [I just wrote that bit about his mother off the top of my head then saw this on IMDB: "Abandoned by his father in his childhood, he was raised believing his grandmother was his mother and his mother was his older sister. " Now that's weird! But I digress...]

What I'm saying here is that Unbox doesn't do enough to leverage IMDB.

On the flip side, if I'm at the IMDB page for The Shining, the Shop section in the upper right corner offers me the option of buying, from Amazon, a DVD or VHS copy of the movie -- but not the downloadable version.

Looks like Unbox and IMDB need to work more closely together to capitalize on the IMDB metadata and take advantage of a la carte download sales opportunities.

Come on, Mr. Bezos and company, get it together! Put this back in the oven and fully bake it -- and fully leverage the synergy between IMDB and Unbox.

[For the record... I own shares in Amazon]
[Update: For the record, as of Oct. 25th I no longer own shares in Amazon]

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