Amazon's offline Prime videos give Netflix a reason to worry

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When it comes to streaming movies and TV shows, Netflix is the name on most lips. The service is popular enough that, as with Google, one may invoke its name as a sort of general indication of one's intentions — "Let's find a movie on Netflix or something" — without necessarily intending to use its service. At the end of the day, it's convenience that counts for most people, and users will gravitate to the method of least resistance, whether it is Netflix or a different company entirely. Netflix is pretty simple to use, but it has one big limitation: you need Wi-Fi.

Netflix has publicly stated in the past that it will not make videos available offline, and while that is fine for someone who only uses the service when they're at home with their WiFi network, it makes the video streaming service less useful for frequent travelers and those subjected to spotty Internet connectivity. Netflix is king of video streaming, but arguably only because a competitor hasn't figured out a compelling way to hook its subscribers.

Enter Amazon and its newly announced support for offline Prime Video playback. The Internet retailer has zeroed in on the one spot Netflix has vowed to leave untouched, and it just so happens to be an area that matters a lot to many people. Being able to watch videos offline means the next time you have a long car ride, plane trip, or you're stuck waiting in a lobby, you can fire up saved videos and preserve your precious mobile data.

Offline videos have been dismissed as an issue of poor Internet availability — solve the latter issue, and offline videos won't be necessary, the reasoning goes. While that's true, it also ignores the fact that for many people, fast, consistent and available Internet is simply not available. Videos have to be downloaded as a batch while at school, the office, or the library, for example, or while you're still in range the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot. When this is reality, Netflix is pointless.

Amazon Prime Video won't allow every video to be watched offline, but a considerable number are eligible for such viewing, and it's a very promising start. You'll need to grab the newest version of the Amazon Video app to get the new functionality. Previously, Amazon only allowed offline viewing on its Fire tablets.

SOURCE: Amazon