Will Apple's rental service succeed?
At the new iTunes rental store, visitors can check out movies from all of the major Hollywood studios. For new releases, users are charged $3.99 and catalog rentals are $2.99. HD rentals were also introduced this week at $4.99, but are only available thro
Steve Jobs' keynote at this year's MacWorld included the announcement of four new products: the new MacBook Air, Time Capsule, an update to the iPhone and iPod Touch, and a revised Apple TVwith movie rentals through both the Apple TV and the iTunes store. It's clear that Jobs is excited about the new offering and the studios are also quite pleased with the terms of the new service, but what about John and Jane Consumer?At the new iTunes rental store, visitors can check out movies from all of the major Hollywood studios. For new releases, users are charged $3.99 and catalog rentals are $2.99. HD rentals were also introduced this week at $4.99, but are only available through Apple TV. Once downloaded the movies will remain accessible for 30 days, but will only stay active for a 24 hour period after pressing play. In 1987, the Dead Kennedy's released an album titled "Give Me Convenience, or Give Me Death," and for those who live by that credo, the new iTunes service delivers hands down. The Netflix streaming service is a sweeter set-up in many ways, but it only runs on Windows and installing a second operating system on your Mac is probably not an ideal solution. The terms and pricing of Apple's rental service leave much to be desired. At my local supermarket there is a DVD Play kiosk offering $1.49 rentals with a $.99 fee for each additional day. Blockbuster has abandoned late fees, and Netflix provides a rotating supply of DVD rentals at prices starting at just $8.99 that also includes unlimited PC viewing. Compared to these other offerings, Apple falls flat. The fact that HD content isn't available for most users is yet another strike against them; it's unclear why Apple excluded the iTunes store from renting HD content, but some have speculated it is to prevent piracy.