Amazon Unbox: Not Ready for Primetime

Unbox — Amazon’s new video and music downloading service — is not ready for primetime, at least judging by my experience. Some samples:

  1. First, I got trapped in some bizarro-world loop with the company’s 1-Click service. It kept trying to get me to log-in to Amazon, even though I was already logged in. It never pointed out that the real problem was that I had turned off 1-Click in my preferences, so I needed to turn it on. Thanks guys.
  2. Things were worse when I tried to download and install Amazon’s Unbox player. After ages and ages of downloading various pieces of Microsoft-ian programming frameworks, and maybe a few fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the program began its installation routine, only to cheerfully and inscrutably blow up right smack in the middle of things:
  3. After trying a few times, I gave up and decided I’d try to return the video. Good luck figuring out how to do that. There’s no mention anywhere I can  find at Amazon of how to get a refund on an unwatched video.
  4. Having failed at getting an immediate refund via the website, I went through the returns center to the general Help, and clicked on the “Click to Call” button. My home rang moments later, and an automated voice said it would put me right through. It did, but I got stuck in a new loop of “Sorry, I didn’t get tha … Sorry, I didn’t get tha … Sorry, I didn’t get that …”, until after three times around with a screwed-up voice-rec system the automated Amazon call center hung up on me. No operator, no nothing. Just dialtone.

So, Amazon Unbox has been a wonderful experience. Not.


  1. Seems likely this was rushed out to beat Apple’s announcement next week, no?

  2. I didn’t have any problems. It’s pretty well set up I thought. But I would like the option to rent. I just don’t understand movie ownership.

  3. I just don’t understand the pricing. Looks like average price is in the $12 – $15 range. For a movie I can only watch on or from one computer and isn’t compatible with a DVD player? Am I missing the incentive here? I’d pay a dollar or two more and just buy the actual DVD. This will need to be significantly cheaper to draw meaningful interest.

  4. At the price Amazon is selling movies download, it is not a good deal. (1) The movie can only be played on a Windows PC or a Windows media PC. (2) One cannot burn a DVD for one’s archive [although one can archive on Amazon’s site]. (3) The download is not the same as a real DVD as the download file size is quite a bit smaller, leading one to believe that some goodies are left out.
    I watch movies on my projection system with 5.1 surround sound not a small screen PC. The Windows media PC was never a great platform. Who needs a OS with 65 million lines of code as the center of one’s media room?

  5. I dont know why amazon doesnt put its number for customer service. However they are very quick in resolving any issues. Here is the number for your reference ( 206266 2992).
    ps: I am no way related to amazon. Just thought you can save your 13 dollars you spend on unwatched movie

  6. In their hustle to get out ahead of Apple’s possible 9/12 announcements they may have pulled the roast chicken out too soon. You know how good undercooked chicken is…
    Will be funny if Apple’s tosses a big non-event next week and effectively forced some co’s to play their cards too soon.

  7. Check Cringely for the Apple / Amazon backstory and the Disney angle.