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Wednesday, September 27, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Amazon listens to Unbox beefs

Seattle Times retail reporter

When Amazon.com unveiled its downloadable movie service, Amazon Unbox, users voiced concerns with software features they deemed buggy and invasive.

The company, renown for its customer service, apparently listened.

Amazon on Tuesday told Unbox customers that it would add changes to the software, which allows consumers to purchase, download and play television shows, movies and other videos on computers and portable devices.

The changes include controlling ability if the Unbox service launches when a computer is rebooted and messaging that better identifies when videos may be watched.

Amazon said it also fixed problems with licensing, downloading, fast-forwarding and rewarding.

As an incentive to keep using the service, it also credited Unbox accounts with a $1.99 rebate.

While a nod to its customer-service bent, the real gift would be to offer videos they can take off their computers.

The major Hollywood film studios have faced increasing pressure to sell movies online, as box-office receipts steadily decline and peer-to-peer networks offer illegal movie downloads free.

But the studios have yet to loosen licensing restrictions that would give consumers the ability to unshackle content from desktop computers, such as allowing them to burn new releases and popular titles to DVD.

Competitor CinemaNow on Tuesday said it would sell a downloadable version of "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" that can be burned to DVD on the same day the movie is released nationwide in retail stores.

While the Marina Del Rey, Calif., company runs the only Web site permitted to provide a burn-to-DVD service for Hollywood movies, its offerings are severely limited. The featured titles in that section include "Inside Man" and "Bulletproof Monk."

Monica Soto Ouchi: 206-515-5632 or msoto@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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