Even though it may compete head-to-head with iTunes when it comes to home entertainment sales, Amazon is making concessions to the Cupertino giant’s ecosystem with an update for its Instant Video iOS app that boosts compatibility with Apple TV and iOS.
The app, as one may suspect, allows users to watch video content purchased electronically from Amazon, as well as stream Prime Instant Video. In the past, it worked with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, but the update released this week adds the ability to stream content from the app via AirPlay. That means that users can “throw” the content between devices, including sending it to Apple TV.
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The Instant Video iOS app has been the subject of critical reviews on the iTunes site since it was released in July 2012, because of its inability to work with AirPlay. The consumer demand illustrates how the over-the-top (OTT) landscape continues to evolve: a multiplicity of compatible viewing platforms and ubiquitous access across devices is becoming the linchpin for OTT services looking for uptake. Take Netflix, for example: hurtling headlong into distribution via any device or platform that would take it has been a winning strategy that has catapulted it to sustained growth despite operating in a saturated domestic market.
Apple presents a conundrum for Amazon because of its vertical integration: it offers coveted hardware that any OTT service will have to be compatible with the be taken seriously, but it also – of course – has a tidy electronic sell-through (EST) biz via iTunes for TV and movie rentals and digital sales. Embracing iPhone et al, including Apple TV, is a competitive block-and-tackle move for OTT providers that prevents Apple from fully controlling the content story for iOS users. In Amazon’s case, it needs to offer iDevice users a path to watching its content, but it also wants to use whatever loyalty or leverage it has with its members to talk them into buying a Kindle Fire.
The Airplay support gives Apple gear owners an easier way to interact with and use Amazon content. The next step would be the incorporation of a native Amazon Instant Video app for Apple TV—but no word on when, if ever, the two rivals would ink a deal for that.
The Amazon update also, incidentally, includes expanded integration with its subsidiary IMDb, to provide better metadata options.
Edited by Alisen Downey