Apple has been trying to interest a number of Hollywood studios in an iTunes rental service, and several people familiar with the negotiations said more than one studio would appear onstage at the company's Macworld exhibition in San Francisco beginning January 14 to endorse a new Apple movie rental service.
These people, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations, confirmed the Apple-Fox relationship. Apple now trails several companies offering digital movie rental services,.
The Financial Times first reported the
Steven P. Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple, has been publicly
Apple, which is based in Cupertino, Calif., now sells movie downloads from several studios through its iTunes service, including
With more than 30 million iPods sold, many of which can display videos, Apple has in its customers an attractive audience for the Hollywood studios. Moreover, the ability of consumers to watch movies on multiple devices--video players, laptops, desktop computers, and televisions--would be a significant advance for Apple, by expanding the market for movie rentals.
The deal for movie rentals is enhanced by Apple incorporating its FairPlay digital rights management system to let consumers transfer rental movies for viewing on iPods or on the iPhone.
Shares of Apple climbed as high as $202.96 on Thursday, but they fell at the end of the day to close at $198.57.
It is unclear whether movie rentals would give the company's
Apple TV plugs into a television and wirelessly pulls in video and music from a Mac or off the Internet. The device, which costs $300 to $400, has not proved popular. Apple TV is an important foray, however, because it places Apple squarely in the consumer electronics market, where it will compete with Microsoft and industry giants like Sony and Hewlett-Packard, which are also eagerly looking at markets for entertainment beyond the PC screen.