Stream On, Amazon

Jeff Bezos is about to pull another rabbit out of his digital hat.

The Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) CEO revealed at last week's D6: All Things Digital conference that the leading online retailer is weeks away from rolling out a streaming video-on-demand service.

This service isn't much of a stretch. Amazon has been selling and renting digital flicks and TV shows through its Unbox service for nearly two years. Sure, downloads are different from streams, but who are we kidding here? Unbox downloads can begin streaming just minutes after the process is initiated, and the Unbox rentals are already temporary in nature.

Amazon isn't in the same league as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) in digital video, even if it beat Steve Jobs to the couch potato when Amazon struck a deal with TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) to let Unbox purchases play through TiVo's digital video recorders.

So forgive me if I yawn at this news of streaming video.

I'm more interested in what Amazon will do after it gets this video-streaming service off the ground. Amazon is already huge on the Web-services side. The company has the server farm to facilitate tech-developer storage needs and provide the infrastructure backbone for other online shops. For Amazon, streaming is as natural as breathing, so I wonder whether this move is part of a bigger push to serve as a streaming provider for other companies.

Content-delivery networks such as Akamai (Nasdaq: AKAM  ) and Limelight Networks (Nasdaq: LLNW  ) make a living by serving up chunky media files. Is Amazon's upcoming streaming platform a way to delve deeper into that market? 

We'll have to wait and see what this video-streaming service will look like. Will it be PC-based, similar to what Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) provides free to its subscribers? Will it be TV-based, like the pay-per-view model that cable companies such as Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCS  ) have perfected? Will the Kindle, despite its screen and storage limitations, play a part in the streaming service?

Suddenly, I'm not yawning any more. Show me what you've got, Bezos.

Foolishness is flowing:

Netflix, Amazon.com, and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Akamai Technologies is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. You can try either market-beating newsletter service free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been shopping online for about as long as Amazon.com has been in business. He owns shares in Netflix. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy that’s streaming the latest and greatest.


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  • Report this Comment On June 03, 2008, at 7:03 AM, LouieJunior wrote:

    That's all AMZN investors ever do -- wait and see. Everything they start is pumped and hyped by the company with very few accomplishments.

    All Amazon realy does effectively is collect money for UPS and FedEx.

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