Apple is preparing to allow iTunes customers to stream video from the company's servers to any Web-enabled device, according to a film industry source.
The source declined to provide details but did confirm a report published Wednesday by the blog AppleInsider, which broke the news.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment.
According to the report, Apple is working on a feature for iTunes 8 that will enable users to stream movies and TV shows "for playback anywhere," and in this way help them avoid having to store large video files on their hard drives.
The service will be called iTunes Replay, according to AppleInsider. It's unclear whether Apple intends to charge a fee for the streaming feature.
Apple would certainly need to secure licenses from TV networks and movie studios to offer the service. Almost as certain is that entertainment companies would require compensation.
I don't know that there's a need for this service just to save people room on their hard drives. But as AppleInsider points out, there are other benefits to the service. Owners wouldn't have to sync to Apple TV or download files to their computer in order to watch a movie or show, so it could also improve the experience of Apple TV. However, it's hard for me to believe that Apple would go to the trouble of securing complex licensing agreements just to streamline the download process.
Netflix includes the ability to stream video in the price of most of its subscription plans at no extra charge. Is it possible Apple plans to compete with Netflix's streaming rental service?