Amazon’s Netflix Challenger, Kinect’s Development Kit, PopCap’s Looming IPO

A little Tuesday catch-up following the holiday weekend (for us, anyway) in Seattle-area tech news:

• Amazon made its long-rumored Netflix challenge official with this morning’s announcement of a subscription streaming video service.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) already had an a la carte version called Instant Videos, which offers about 90,000 movie and TV titles. Today’s news is that a subset of those offerings—about 5,000 titles—can be streamed for free by members of Amazon Prime, the retailer’s premium shipping service.

The selection sounds like it will be familiar to Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) streaming customers. Amazon noted that titles like “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “Amadeus” will be available, which I happened to skip over just yesterday on my Netflix-enabled PlayStation 3.

But Amazon is also making a point to compete on price.

As others have pointed out, Netflix streaming alone costs about $8 a month, or $96 annually. Amazon Prime—based around unlimited fast shipping for select purchases—costs $79 per year, and the streaming videos are a complementary addition.

Which makes me wonder: Is this about streaming videos to consumers, or about building a broader empire known as Amazon Prime? Sounds like a classic loss-leader.

• Microsoft had some media types over for a tour yesterday and revealed … Next Page »

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