updated 10:40 am EST, Thu March 2, 2006
iTunes feature films?
Apple could be in the intermediate stages of developing an iTunes movie download service to offer full length feature films to iTunes customers with broadband internet connections. A survey distributed this week through Coyote Insight--a California-based market research firm--asked participants to answer a series of questions related to a potential "iTunes movie service" which would provide on-demand access to movies that could be downloaded to a computer, or an iPod. "This iTunes service would provide access to 1,000 movies on demand which can be downloaded to your computer and, in turn, to your video iPod if you have one, or even your television if it is connected to your computer," a description in the survey read. The service would operate similarly to Apple's current iTunes download services for songs and videos, with one or two differences: "The first difference is you would need to have a high speed (broadband) internet connection such as DSL or cable modem to use the service. The second difference is access to the movies is offered on a monthly subscription basis."
Users could quickly download any of the available movies through iTunes, which could begin playing as the download progressed, according to AppleInsider. "You would have access to 1,000 movies including new releases like 'The Incredibles', 'The Pacifier', and 'Fightplan' as well as your favorites from the past," the description read. "Watch as many movies as you want, as often as you want--all commercial free with no charge per view." Every month, the potential service would add new movies to its offering.
The survey requested participants to rate the described service on a scale of 1 to 10. Then, based on the same scale, it also asked participants to indicate how likely they would be to subscribe to the new iTunes service for a monthly fee of $9.99.
Apple appears to be looking for feedback on alternative pricing models--presumably if it is granted permission from its content partners which include major motion picture studios such as Miramax Films, Universal Pictures, Buena Vista Pictures, New Line Cinema, and Sony Pictures, according to the report.
"Instead of subscribing for $9.99 a month to download the offered movies, another option is to buy the movies individually," read the survey. "You would be able to select any movie available on this service, download it to your PC where you can keep it as long as you like. You would be able to view it on your computer as well as play it on your video capable iPod."
The survey also noted that the afore-mentioned option would not allow users to burn a copy of the movie to a DVD for playback on a DVD player. "The cost of purchasing movies individually would be approximately $12.95 per movie or roughly the equivalent of buying a DVD at a store," the survey added. Once again, survey participants were asked to rate their interest in the buy-to-own service on a scale of 1 to 10, as well as the pricing structure--indicating which of the two described iTunes services they would favor most. Offering another option, a followup question requested that participants again rate their interest in the same $12.95-per-month subscription model if it allowed DVD burning.
The survey, which was distributed on Tuesday, also specifically asked participants whether they own Apple-branded iPod digital music players and computers, or "other brand" products. Representatives for Coyote Insight refused to state whether the survey was ordered by Apple or one of its competitors, pointing to confidentiality agreements with its clients.