The Net search giant says the new Android Market will offer movies starting at $2 for instant viewing or for downloads to watch offline.
The move comes a day after Netflix (NFLX) raised its prices for streaming video and DVD rentals, creating some uproar among users and highlighting the difficulties of the subscription model versus the pay-per video approach.
Google says the service will be available "in the coming weeks" on newer Android phones running on the Android 2.2 operating system.Google has been dabbling in sales of TV shows and Google movie rentals for the past two years with little success. Part of Google's video challenge has been the limited selection of popular new releases, and the fact that watching movies on computer screens has its drawbacks. Movies on mobile devices may be a more fruitful territory. With the growth of smartphones and tablets, movie watching in offline situations -- like while sitting on trains and airplanes or in doctors' waiting rooms -- could hold some niche appeal. But what gives Google movies the biggest potential boost is the large number of Netflix users who have suddenly turned sour on the pricier subscription service. A poll by TheStreet shows that more than half of the respondents would cancel their Netflix subscriptions. The scramble for the online movie sales has grown heated in the past year. Giants like Amazon (AMZN) started its own Netflix alternative by offering huge video rental libraries. Media company joint venture Hulu started a paid TV service. And even Facebook jumped into the game with its own $3 movies. Google's latest Netflix alternative, if nothing else, is set to arrive at a very opportune time. Google shares were up 1% to $537.75 in early trading Wednesday. --Written by Scott Moritz in New York.
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