Amazon and Apple Start Online HD Video War

1 min read

We’re slowly but surely moving towards a high-definition future. Both Apple and Amazon now look to be offering HD downloads, with more companies likely to follow suit. The war has begun.

Offline HD

In the offline world, HD is all the rage. A large percentage of the population now own Full-HD or HD-Ready televisions, and despite a slow launch, where it had to battle against HD DVD to become the format of choice, there is evidence that Blu-ray is also gaining a sizable market share.

There are also more content providers than ever offering their wares in high-definition, with Sky HD and BBC HD two of the leading proponents.

Online HD

Online has so far been a different story. Hindered by bandwidth and Broadband speed limitations, many Web companies have lagged behind their offline counterparts in offering a range of HD services. But no more.

YouTube took the plunge last year, offering HD streaming of selected videos. In a move coupled with a default widescreen player, December finally saw high-definition video come to the world’s most popular online video site.

Facebook quickly followed suit, so it seemed the streaming market was making headway into the world of HD. However, the ISPs are still likely to complain about high-def video becoming standard, which is why FilmOn developed HDi technology, which it claims eliminates the pesky bandwidth and speed problems by cleverly using compression.

Apple iTunes

Apple has been offering HD downloads of TV shows since last September, and all of the major networks were on board by October. And now it’s also offering HD movie downloads as well. The initial offering is small, with Quantum of Solace and Twilight the big movies instantly available, but the library is sure to grow over time.

Apple iTunes HD movie rentals are priced at $4.99 while downloads will cost $19.99 for newly-released movies. This seems steep although when compared to the $25 – $30 being asked for a new movie release on Blu-ray, it may actually not be so bad.

Amazon Video on Demand

Amazon has been growing its online video business for some time now, and there is growing evidence that it too will shortly be selling HD versions of television shows. According to Ars Technica, multiple Web sites have independently found evidence of the move. The fact that this evidence has turned up over the course of a few days suggests it’s more than just pure speculation.

The evidence suggests that Amazon will go toe-to-toe with Apple, matching the $2.99-per-episode price of HDTV content. Amazon has responded to the claims, telling Tech Flash:

“We said many months ago that we intend to bring HD titles to our catalogue in 2009 but we have no further details to announce at this time.”

The Winner: Consumers

The start of an online HD video war is good news for the consumer. It should mean prices will come down as both sides battle to provide the lowest-priced service. It could also mean advances are made in the delivery methods, as neither side wants to be labeled with having the worst-looking high-definition content on the Web.

HD is finally finding its feet on the Internet. It’s now up to the companies involved to push its adoption.

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Amazon Video on Demand