updated 08:00 am EDT, Thu October 13, 2011
Apple near deals with movie studios for cloud movi
Apple is getting close to a deal that would let it serve its iTunes movies from the cloud rather than locally, sources claimed Thursday. The terms understood by the LA Times and backed by the WSJ would let Apple stream any movie a user buys or rents. Access would apply across any iTunes device, including the Apple TV, where the lack of permanent storage makes streaming its only real option.
The deal could be wrapped as soon as late this year or early next.
Apple switched on iTunes in the Cloud for the US and many other countries with its launch of iCloud on Tuesday, giving users the option of re-downloading music and books on any device they're signed into. iTunes Match will also provide a pseudo-streaming option for music in the US late in October. Movies, however, have been excluded from the initial plans.
Studios will preempt Apple in some form through their just-launched UltraViolet service, which gives viewers the right to access movies they've bought even if they were bought as physical copies. Apple isn't participating outside of allowing third-party apps, however, and the system only guarantees access for the first year before studios can reserve the right to cut off the privilege. iTunes rights would presumably exist indefinitely and also cover rentals.
Netflix still leads the US for overall US Internet video share with about 64 percent, based on NPD data, and its use of streaming has been considered a key ingredient. Subscribers can play on many devices without needing to transfer the movie or to remember where they left off. Apple has been leading pay-per-title movies, however, and improving its stake overall as some get frustrated by studios withholding content from Netflix; cloud rights could provide some of Netflix's advantages without sacrificing access to major titles.