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September 08, 2006

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Gus

Or is it "Designing Dissatisfaction"? One review of the service suggests that might be a more appropriate title. See http://reviews.cnet.com/4531-10921_7-6636289.html?subj=blog&part=rss&tag=6636289. One of that reviewer's complaints seems based in the "phone home" nature of the Unbox player--including to uninstall it. It will be interesting to hear your take on the licensing issues. This phone-home and uninstall behaviour looks to be governed by section 3 of the license. For instance, your rights to access the content look to be tied to your continued use of the service. Say you buy a half dozen movies--but then you realize that Amazon has gone to the dark side with its Unbox program and you want out. If you cancel the service before watching the movies, it looks like the content will be deleted. This isn't much of a "sale," if it is tied to your continued use of the service.

But I will wait to hear your take on the license before commenting further--definitely some interesting stuff in there.

I've yet to play around with the product--and I probably won't. Even if it were of more than academic interest to me, the format seems to offer no advantages over DVD and reportedly comes at a higher price. But I am concerned about the format that the video is stored in--which looks like it might be an "embraced & extended" codec. But this is based upon unconfirmed reports from people trying to play Unbox content with non-Unbox media players, which seems to work only in fits and starts.

--Gus

William Rothwell

>>Even if it were of more than academic interest to me, the format seems to offer no advantages over DVD and reportedly comes at a higher price.<<

I completely agree on this point. As an example selected completely at random (I promise!), I can order the Laguna Beach Season 2 DVD from Amazon for $25 rather than pay $27 for the much more limited Unbox version. I have seen the same problem pop up in a number of digital distribution stores (for example, it is usually cheaper to get a boxed copy of Valve products from Best Buy rather than Steam). While I am generally interested in the products being offered, content providers need to price more realistically before I am going to jump on the direct-download bandwagon.

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