Australia misses out on iTunes movie rentals

Apple's iTunes Store in the US now allows users to rent movies rather than purchase them, but there's still no word when a similar service might be available Down Under.

Homer gets the iPod silhouette

Homer gets the iPod silhouette treatment during the keynote at Macworld 2008

Apple's iTunes Store in the US now allows users to rent movies rather than purchase them, but there's still no word when a similar service might be available Down Under.

Movies and TV shows aren't available for download from Apple in Australia.

Rented movies from the US iTunes Store can be kept for up to 30 days, but must be viewed within 24 hours once the user starts to play the film.

Apple has teamed up with major studios, such as 20th Century Fox, Disney, Warner Bros, Sony, Universal, Paramount, MGM, Lions Gate, Miramax and Touchstone.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that unlike music, which people like to listen to over and over, people only want to watch a movie a few times.

"You listen to your favourite song thousands of times in your life, but your favourite movie -- most of us watch movies once, maybe a few times, and renting is a great way to do it," said Jobs.

iTunes Store in the US with movie rentals

iTunes Store in the US with movie rentals

While iTunes movie rentals are available from today in the US, international users will have to wait, according to Jobs.

"We're dying to get this international," Jobs said.

20th Century Fox Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos joined Jobs on stage at the MacWorld keynote in support of the partnership, and to announce it will be including iPod-compatible movies that can be imported into iTunes on its DVDs going forward.

"People want a wide variety of choice, easy access to it, have it be convenient, control how, when and where to watch it, and take it with them," Gianopulos said.

Digital downloads won't be the death of DVDs, according to Gianopulos, who restated his company's commitment to the Blu-ray format. He also suggested that the format war was already over.

"DVDs will be with us for a while especially now that the next-generation format -- well Blu-ray, it looks like ... but people will still want to enjoy the benefits of hard media," Gianopulos said.

Alongside the announcement of movie rentals at the Macworld 2008 conference in San Francisco, Jobs also announced the Apple TV "Take Two".

Movie details on the iTunes Store can now be seen, rented or downloaded on Apple TV (in the US)

Movie details on the iTunes Store can now be seen, rented or downloaded on Apple TV (in the US)

A software upgrade to Apple TV no longer requires users to sync content from iTunes, essentially allowing the networked device to run exclusively with a television.

Apple TV "Take Two" still allows users to sync content back to their computer if they wish.

"I think we've certainly made some progress since our first try," Jobs said.

The Apple TV was first announced at Macworld 2007 and released in Australia in March.

The Apple TV with upgraded firmware will ship in two weeks for US$229. A local price drop of the Apple TV has not yet been confirmed, but existing users will be able to upgrade with a free software download.

In the US a new release rental costs US$3.99, while an older "library title" costs US$2.99. Renting the corresponding HD movie costs US$4.99 and US$3.99.

Apple has sold seven million movies and 125 million TV shows through its iTunes Store to date, according to Jobs.

"That's way more than everyone else put together," Jobs said.

As well as its burgeoning video distribution business, Apple has sold four billion songs through its iTunes Store, breaking a daily sales record on Christmas Day with 20 million songs sold.

Our US counterparts can watch rented iTunes movies on the Apple TV, Mac, PC, iPhone and the latest generation iPods
Our US counterparts can watch rented movies via Apple TV, Mac, PC, iPhones and the latest generation iPods

CNET.com.au's Jeremy Roche travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Apple.

 

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