Will iPod movie rentals take off?
Senior Editor Donald Bell speculates on the future of renting videos for the iPod.
From an iPod perspective, the biggest announcement from Macworld 2008 has to be iTunes video rentals. Beginning in February, those of you who own an
Only a few competing MP3 players have dipped their toes into integrated video rental services. Specifically, the Archos line of portable video players and the
From my point of view, Apple's video rental DRM strategy is a big roadblock to people renting movies specifically for their iPod. Apple's rental terms afford users 30 days to decide when to watch their downloaded movie rental, and then 24 hours to finish watching it after the movie has started. For users who are renting movies to watch at home, Apple's rental terms seem adequate, if a little stingy. At home, most of us are free from distraction and will have no problem consuming a movie within 24 hours of starting it. On a portable device, however, I predict that the 24-hour limitation will be very frustrating.
Unless I'm on a transcontinental flight, I have a tough time getting through a full movie on a portable video player. I usually watch half of a movie on the departure flight and half on the return--a scenario that wouldn't work with Apple's proposed DRM scheme. Apple's PR representatives at Macworld touted the ability to start a rented movie on a computer or Apple TV, and later transfer the video to an iPod to finish it on the go. While I'm happy Apple's rental DRM-protection doesn't hamper the transfer of movies between devices, the idea of rushing to finish last night's movie on my morning commute seems needlessly stressful.
Why can't Apple's movie rental DRM simply allow users one complete play of the movie, digested in as many small doses as needed, within a 30-day period? Wouldn't that be a more user-friendly approach? What advantage does the 24-hour restriction afford Apple? Whatever money Apple makes from customers renting a movie twice because the DRM expired, can't be worth the frustration it causes the user.
So what do you guys think? Will an iTunes movie rental make it onto your iPod in the near future, or will the DRM make renting strictly an at-home activity? If Apple's offer isn't perfect, what would seal the deal for you?