electronic brain surgery since 2001

Amazon Prime Video Disaster

Okay. So I pay for Amazon Prime for free delivery. They increased the price. But they include a video streaming service now. So why not?

Today I wanted to watch something on my Android Tablet or my Android phone. Both are reasonable hardware with Android Lollipop. I watch Netflix on both all the time. But today I wanted to try Instant Video.

So here is how that went. Before you read on please note that I have a German Amazon Prime subscription and a German IP Address. This is not about circumventing any region blocking. This is simply about accessing the content I already pay for.

So here we go. Can't be that hard, eh?

  1. go to Google Playstore and search for Amazon Video
  2. no hits
  3. google around and figure out that you're supposed to install it through Amazon's own app store
  4. Download the APK
  5. Enable installation of untrusted sources (sideloading)
  6. Install the APK (Amazon Underground)
  7. Login
  8. Switch Country to Germany
  9. The App is now in German (despite my device being set to English)
  10. Select Amazon Video from the menu
  11. Click on something you wanna watch
  12. Learn that you need to “update” the Prime Video App
  13. Click on “Jetzt aktualisieren” (update now)
  14. Find yourself on a English page telling you “You are not eligible to purchase this app due to geographical restrictions”
  15. Click “why?”
  16. Be confused
  17. Download Amazon Video App from APKMirror
  18. Install the APK and run it
  19. It says it's logged in as me
  20. It also says “Start your 30 day trial of Amazon Prime” because apparently it logged me in at Amazon.com
  21. give up and watch Netflix

Guess what video service I recommend to anyone asking. Seriously Amazon. Get your shit together.

Update October 28th

So today I got a call from Amazon Germany about this blog post (good social media monitoring there). The guy said he looked into my problem and figured out what's wrong: my “digital account” is registered in the US because I bought books in the US Kindle Store. All I would need to do is to transfer my “digital account” to Amazon Germany.

Well, I told him that I got that info from the Amazon Support already and that my “current country” setting is already set to Germany at Amazon.com. But anyway I wouldn't want to “transfer” anything when that would mean that I could no longer buy books at Amazon.com.

He told me that's not possible and I told him that that's bullshit and far from user friendly. He explained that that's because of intellectual property rights. And I again told him that that's bullshit. Because clearly:

  1. Amazon has the necessary rights to sell their books worldwide from the US store (otherwise they wouldn't do so)
  2. Amazon has the necessary rights to stream their German movie catalog to German users

However they decided to combine both things in an incompatible way without any good reason. That is completely their fault alone.

So the summary is, above experience of 20 steps of user frustration is what Amazon thinks is perfectly fine.

My options now are:

  • don't use Amazon Instant Videos
  • no longer buy Kindle books in the American Store
  • change my Address and “digital account” back and forth every time I want to use one of the services

Yes. The last option was what he seriously suggested to do. In addition he kept interrupting me which really didn't help our conversation at all.

But just to be sure that is understood, here is what Amazon should do instead:

  • Put your Video App on the Google Play Store
  • Let me log in with my Account
  • Let me pick what Country's catalog I want to access in a setting
    • I'm perfectly fine with you checking my IP location to make the rights holders happy (just like Netflix does)
  • Do the same for whatever other digital service they offer (photo and MP3 storage comes to mind)

That would be the user friendly way every other video service does it.

Until then, I can just repeat myself: Amazon get your shit together!

Update October 29th

It just occured to me that Amazon's reply is even more bullshit than I thought. Their reply basically said “for technical and digital rights reasons that's the way it is”. But that's simply not true for one simple reason:

  • I can play Amazon Instant videos just fine on my Samsung Smart TV

Really, there's basically no friction there: open the Amazon app, login, start streaming. There is no need to fuzz around with any account settings on my side. Amazon is perfectly able to recognize my TV as a valid playing device for their German video service.

That leaves me with the conclusion that Android support for Instant Video is deliberately fucked up to:

  • promote Amazon's line of Fire devices (running an Android fork)
  • promote Amazon's own Android app store
amazon, rant, prime, instantvideo
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