To get the jump on Apple, Amazon released their movie download offereing (called Unbox) just days before Apple’s announcement last week. To kick off their launch they’re offering a free download ($1.99 instant rebate) for a TV show. I decided to give the new service a try (since the first one is free). I downloaded the software and then purchased (free after rebate) my favorite episode of Firefly to try out the system. So far so good, until I decide to fire up the Unbox downloader/player and actually try to watch the video. My newly purchased show would not download. I kept getting an undescript red-colored “Unable to Download” message no matter what I tried to do. After being frustrated with the system for half a day, I decided to dump the whole thing and uninstall it from my computer. I tried using the uninstaller for the app, but it wouldn’t go away. It would just hang on a pulsing bar telling me it needed to check my account. Well, I couldn’t watch my video, and I couldn’t get rid of the software so I lowered myself to contacting Amazon support. They do have a nice system where you put in your phone neumber and they contact you – I’ll give them that. After being on the phone for 30-45 minutes with a tech suport person, they were still unable to get my video to download or remove the software from my machine. They told me they’d contact me with an update, which they did a day later. They had me remove some application settings files and then the Unbox program would uninstall correctly.
I wanted to give the Unbox service the benefit of the doubt, so I tried it again on a totally different computer on a totally different network. Guess what… the same thing happened. I couldn’t download the video, and I couldn’t remove the software. Luckily I had the secret removal instructions that Amazon gave me from the previous faulty install. I’ve since removed it from computer number 2 and thrown in the towel. I really don’t think I would have used the service (even if it had worked) because of how incredibly inflexible and locked down the whole system is, but unfortunately I didn’t even get to a point where I could evaluate it.
After doing some digging, I ran across a few articles where other folks ran into similar issues.
Amazon Unbox better left off your box – Ars Technica
BoingBoing also has a pretty scathing review that makes me glad I didn’t ever get it working.
Nice try Amazon… better luck next time.