It has been my theory for a little while that sometime in the near future, we are going to see the downfall of physical discs for watching movies. A lot of companies are moving towards a downloadable model. Most notably, Apple sells downloadable movies through its iTunes store and even pipes them through to its own set-top box. Microsoft also sells movies through its Video Marketplace on the Xbox 360 in both standard and high definition.
In March of this year, TiVo decided it wanted to jump into the game. It was a really logical move since it has a ton of set-top boxes already out there and the ability to push out software updates to its boxes. TiVo partnered with Amazon Unbox and lets you buy movies on its Web site to watch on your TiVo. Even though that was a great move, it was still a little tough for people who aren't experienced users. Well, hopefully the problem of usability will be alleviated with today's announcement that Amazon Unbox's catalog will be browseable right on your TiVo. A New York Times article by the AP says "...'Buy on TV' allows TiVo users to search Amazon's video catalog and rent or purchase titles using their TiVo's remote control." The new feature will only be available on Series 2 and 3 TiVo boxes that are connected to the Internet.
This is a big step forward for this partnership and for downloadable media in general. TiVo already has a huge install base and that will help it push this service out to a lot of people. It is unfortunate that the rumors about TiVo and Netflix offering downloadable movies didn't pan out since Netflix's library is huge. Seeing things like this come down the pipe really makes the whole "next-gen format war" between HD-DVD and BluRay seem more and more irrelevant.