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Monday, September 18, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie downloading: Apple vs. Amazon

Compiled by Seattle Times staff

With Apple Computer and Amazon.com launching movie-download services within a week of each other, comparisons between the two are inevitable. Some aspects of the two are so different it doesn't make sense to compare them. Amazon rents movies, for example, while Apple doesn't.

But Amazon also sells movies. So in the areas where one can compare, how do the two stack up? Here's a quick rundown:

• Pricing isn't that far apart. Apple said it would sell new releases for $12.99 in the first week and $14.99 after that, while older movies will sell for $9.99.

Amazon doesn't have set pricing, but it has been selling "V for Vendetta" for $13.87 and "The Family Stone" for $14.99. The top download on the site, "The Matrix," sold for $9.77.

• Each video download on Amazon includes two Windows Media files, a main one with the video and a smaller-format one for mobile devices. The Apple download is only one file, which can play on the computer or on an iPod.

• Amazon said that with a fast cable connection, you can begin watching a movie within 2.5 minutes after you start downloading. Apple says you can do it within 1 minute.

• Amazon has a better selection, with 1,475 movies available for purchase compared with 75 for Apple. The discrepancy is largely because Disney is the only movie company making titles available to Apple at this point.

• Amazon said its software could report back to the company some of a user's activities, such as whether a movie has been deleted or watched, whether your computer is available online and how much available disk space your computer has. Amazon also said it will automatically send your computer promotional videos, such as movie trailers and celebrity interviews. Apple doesn't put these terms on iTunes usage.

• Amazon's movies can play on several devices from different companies. Apple's movies play on the PC and on the iPod. If you're a fan of the iPod, and most people who buy handheld media players are, that's no problem. But if you ever wanted to take your movies to a non-Apple player, you're out of luck.

Password overload

A recent RSA Security survey of business workers showed that 36 percent have to remember between six and 15 passwords, and 18 percent manage more than 15.

No word on how many of these passwords are written on sticky notes and pasted to office desks and monitors.

Fashion statement

Apple's Steve Jobs is such an icon that when he took the stage last week wearing a black button-down shirt instead of his traditional black turtleneck, the audience tittered.

"He's wearing a button-down!" one analyst whispered.

One special guest went largely unnoticed by reporters. Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple Computer with Jobs, rode up to the building on his Segway with a helmet on and barely drew glances. He didn't speak on stage and left shortly afterward.

Download: biztech@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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