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Apple's video rental service coming this fall

updated 07:15 pm EDT, Sun June 10, 2007

Apple in Video Rent Talks

Apple is in the later stages of negotiating an online rental service for feature-length movies on iTunes, according to at least one senior Hollywood executive. The service, which is currently slated for a fall release, would reportedly use a version of Apple's FairPlay copy protection to let customers rent movies for a full 30 days at $2.99 per title, automatically rendering the video file inert and preventing unauthorized copies while still allowing the file's transfer to at least one extra device, such as an iPhone.

The move is said to be a critical one for Apple. The electronics firm's roster of studios has grown significantly since the addition of full-length movies to its online store in fall 2006, but some studios are allegedly reluctant to sign on to the complete purchase model for fear of hurting their DVD sales. However, one of the commenting executives observed that the ramifications could be dramatic for rivals already offering online rentals, since Apple has previously turned down the business model.

It could "compete against cable companies and anyone else offering VOD into the home," the executive said.

Digital rentals have so far enjoyed modest success, with Microsoft's Xbox Live Video Marketplace and Amazon's Unbox highlighting the current options. None currently owns a majority stake.

Film industry executives, however, claimed that Apple could see major gains through rentals courtesy of its Apple TV media hub. The device, which is reportedly suffering from low sales in its current form, could be used to at least synchronize rented movies from home computers but could also be used to download the movies directly. This could permanently change the way users experience the device and give it "a lot more utility," said one company leader.

IBB Consulting expert Jonathan Weitz agrees, noting that Apple would latch on to a model for watching video which is currently more popular than direct purchases and is poised to grow larger still as digital rentals take off.

"Consumers don't want to own media - they want to consume it," says Weitz.

by MacNN Staff




  1. Terrin

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I always said it was a mistake for Apple to go with the purchase video model. Renting is better for movies. However, considering the cost of unlimited rental deals through Blockbuster and Netflix, $2.99 a movie is pricey.

    I pay fifteen bucks a month through Blockbuster Online, and I have more movies then I know what to do with.

  1. boris_cleto

    Joined: Dec 1969



    $2.99 is a buck less than TW charges for a PPV.

    Subscription models don't make sense for most consumers.

  1. jasong

    Joined: Dec 1969


    5 movies a month?

    Really? You watch more than 5 movies a month? Damn, I wish I had your kind of free time.

  1. ApeInTheShell

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Low sales?

    I think it all depends on the customers. Families will probably sign up for the subscription service because it is cheaper than buying a movie. The latest releases will eventually show up on iTunes as this model becomes popular and saving money on gas is a plus. Apple can always revert back to the purchase model if it doesn't work. I think the addition of You Tube will move up sales of Apple TV's. I am waiting for Apple to release the update for Front Row but if there are no signs I'll get an Apple TV. Now if they offer a subscription service for some television shows I would be happy.

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not that I'd want to

    but I wonder how long it would take someone to crack that month restriction barrier. If nothing else they could send the video and audio signal to a capture device that pretends to be a display and speakers. Of course, the Vista method could be applied to stop such acts, but I doubt Apple would go to be so restrictive, especially since presentation qualities tops their charts like it should.

    Also, do you think they'll let you buy the movie if you like it? It would kind of fit in with their buy-a-single, buy-rest-of-album-at-album-price-discount model. I could see that being a big money-maker (not the kind James Brown would think of) for iTMS and the studios.

    Thoughts? Feelings?

  1. dagamer34

    Joined: Dec 1969


    no real need to crack

    With DVDs already cracked, I see no reason why people would go after the Apple version when the DVD version is already everywhere. I suppose if crackers wanted to have e-p*$(@ wars, they'll have a go at it, but it's not going to be a contributer to more widespread piracy.

    I would be interested in it because I don't want to BUY movies, I just want to WATCH them. Now, if Apple gets movies in HD sometime in the next year or two, say goodbye to the HD-DVD/Blu-ray wars. AppleTV will rule the WORLD!!

  1. suhail

    Joined: Dec 1969


    good price

    $2.99 is a v.good price, there aren't that many good movies to break my bank. But I hope they'll have those small-time documentary movies such as who-killed-the-electric-car, US vs John Lenon, and other small productions.

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That's a way

    dagamer has got it. With Hi-Def disks and players being so enormously expensive, apple TV and large storage capacity drives along with blazing fast wireless are the cheaper, sleeker alternative. Of course, how would you back up your data? On yet another drive? The one thing that disks have going for them is you could store them away and little worry of some chance incident totally destroying or corrupting them.

    I wonder if there's a cost-comparison out there for something like this...

  1. firebird06

    Joined: Dec 1969


    renting and feasts

    renting movies is a snack when it comes to the conuming of media, as Weitz puts it. I'd rather own my movies, that way i can always have a feast of movies I enjoy any time I please.

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Snacking and feasting

    There is a fundamental difference between renting and owning, and between music and movies. I think Jobs realised this when he offered no rental on music and is now planning to offer rental on movies.

    I want to OWN my music. I listen to my music EVERY day. I listen to it everywhere. I listen to some favourite songs many, many times.

    I don't want to OWN my movies. It is waste of money and shelf space because:

    1. I don't watch my favourite movies every day (that would be freaky) 2. I don't watch my movies everywhere; 3. Even the most favourite of my favourite movies, I can only see about 10 times in my life before it becomes old, boring and uninteresting (with perhaps one or two exceptions, at most).

    There are, of course, people who love building collections of things. Some of these people build collections of movies. Not because they need to watch them every day; just because they love to have a collection of things (much like a thimble collection, or a teaspoon collection, or a collection of baseball cards - not much useful, but a collection, nonetheless). That is different. Most of us who don't build collections of movies (or anything else, for that matter). We only buy things that we will be using frequently. Movies just ain't those things. If you have small children, you probably will end up buying some Disney, since that stuff will be used frequently; eventually, it will go into a box and in the attic (or basement).

    $3 for a movie rental is cheaper than Blockbuster. Keeping it for a month is plenty of time to see the movie. This is an excellent price for an excellent period. If bandwidth allows, HD downloads would sell like hotcakes and AppleTV would be in a position to become the new iPod for Apple (read: cash cow).

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