Report: Apple to launch online movie rentals
An iTunes movie-rental store will take the stage at Apple's upcoming Worldwide Developers Conference, a gathering for Mac software programmers, according to Think Secret. That Apple is planning to rent movies, rather than sell them - if indeed this is the case - comes as something of a surprise, since Apple CEO Steve Jobs has previously badmouthed subscription and rental plans for music. But, says Think Secret, the movie studios have insisted on rental plans rather than permanent downloads, and Jobs -- who now oversees a major movie studio as a Disney board member -- has finally given in.
Virtual Economics calls Apple's rental plan "flawed," saying that the movie studios have failed to learn from the music industry's experience with iTunes, where selling permanent downloads got people to stop using file-sharing services and pay for music instead. But Carlo Longino at Techdirt says that the "studios' insistence on playback restrictions" actually benefits Apple. While Jobs may not be thrilled with the rent-not-buy requirement, other restrictions -- like limiting movie playback to video iPods -- will suit Apple just fine, since online movie rentals will help it sell more of its portable media players.
How does the studio get paid for the download? Will there be an independent third party to monitor the movie play?
A few points:
(1) A few weeks after release, DVDs (used or new) can be bought at really low prices (in Amazon.com or Buy.com or Ebay.com) and enjoyed multiple times, if someone has the time to spend. I doubt many people would want to keep the computer busy downloading 4 to 5 gigs of data. I would also think that very few people have the hard drive space to store more that 4 or 5 movies.
(2) I watch my movies in a TV sitting on my comfortable couch, drinking beer. Sitting in front of a computer to watch a movie is not a viable option for me. I think all those owners of large screen plasma or HD TV would agree with me.
(3) Movies are not like 4-minute-long songs. I doubt if I have ever seen a movie more than twice (the second time fast-forwarding to the good scenes). So, playback restrictions may not be a bad idea if the price is right.
(4) Watching movie is not the same as watching a video clip in an iPod. Looking at a small screen for 2 hours is not going to be enjoyable.
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