Amazon Goes Stream-only for Video? Deprecates Offline Viewing App

Amazon Goes Stream-only for Video? Deprecates Offline Viewing App

Did you catch this?

One of the only redeeming qualities for the Amazon video streaming service was the ability to grab your purchased or rented items for offline viewing. I regularly opted for this choice over Xbox Video so I could watch TV or movies on a long flight on my Surface Pro 3. Amazon's desktop apps for music and video are notoriously bad and quirky, but they do work. Of course, with such a heavy investment in a heavily customized version of Android on all its branded devices, I'm sure there's a sort of "who cares" mentality when it comes to improving or stabilizing apps for other platforms. I mean, Windows Phone is still just an annoying flea for the company and I seriously never expect anything coming from Amazon for that platform. The shopping app is available for Windows Phone but it rarely gets updated and is just as quirky as the company's other apps.

Unfortunately, it looks like Amazon is exiting the offline video business. The company sent an email to customers last week announcing changes. The email states:

Amazon Unbox will no longer be available after March 29, 2015. This means you won’t be able to use Unbox to view or download videos after this date.

Additionally, the email delivers some steps to perform if you want to store your purchases offline for viewing later on, and suggests that the supported method from here on out is through Windows Media Player…

Important: The following two-step process will give you access to your purchased and downloaded videos through Windows Media Player, a standard media player included with most PCs. If you need to download or re-install Windows Media Player please go to Microsoft Support (

  1. Update the Amazon Unbox application to the latest version. This version includes a one-time license conversion that will make your videos available within Windows Media Player. Open the Unbox application and there will be an "Upgrade" notification you can use to do this. You can also click the "Settings" option in the Unbox menu and select "Check for Amazon Unbox Upgrades."

  2. Use Unbox to download all purchased videos you wish to view offline on your PC by March 29, 2015. 

Once you’ve completed these two steps, your downloaded videos will be available through Windows Media Player on your PC, and you can uninstall Amazon Unbox without losing access to them. If you don’t download your purchased videos onto your PC and install the latest version of Unbox by this date, you won’t be able to watch your purchased videos offline on your PC. 

As always, you can also stream your purchased movies and TV episodes on your PC through your web browser as well as on hundreds of compatible devices, including Smart TV’s, game consoles, iOS, Android, and Fire OS devices. 

There's no mention yet of any similar moves for the Amazon Music app, but it's possible that the company is heading in that direction. It's also possible that since Prime Music is a major feature for Prime subscribers, and a stab at competing with Spotify, that the music app will remain intact. We'll see.

This change, though, makes Xbox Video a more appetizing service since you can still rent and download movies. Note, it doesn't explicitly say that offline viewing is going away for good, just that Amazon Unbox is being put to pasture. Let's hope that the company is working on a replacement, but considering the direction of the industry, Amazon's cost-to-revenue difficulties, and investments in early, untested and scrutinized technologies (Amazon Echo, Fire Phone, etc.), it's doubtful.


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