Whether you like it or not, Steve Jobs’ Keynote Address at the yearly Macworld conference (which you can view on the Apple website) is always a major tech event. This year had its fair share of novelties, with the expected ultra-thin MacBook Air, wireless backup syncing via Time Capsule, new Apple TV and improvements to both the iPhone and the iPod Touch. However we won’t focus on any of these, but instead look at iTunes movie rentals.
The service is currently limited to the US version of iTunes but hopefully will be extended to other countries soon. You pay $2.99 for an old movie and $3.99 for a new one and you’ll get 24 hours to watch a movie (though you’ll have 30 days to begin viewing). High Definition (HD) movies are only downloadable via Apple TV and cost $4.99 for a new title and $3.99 for older films. The most impressive thing is how Apple managed to get the six major studios (Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Universal) on board, meaning the lineup of movies available to rent is looking extremely exciting. Also, thanks to a new deal with Twentieth Century Fox, every time you buy a physical DVD from the publisher you’ll also automatically get an iTunes Digital Copy with that.
Updating your iTunes to 7.6 (PC or Mac) will allow you to browse through the rental section in the iTunes store. It’s as easy as buying a title on iTunes and you can view it almost immediately after downloading. Apple also lets you transfer the rented movie to any of your Apple devices (iPods and Apple TV included). One of the drawbacks though is that you’ll only be able to rent new releases 30 days after they’ve been released in DVD.
Releasing rentals on iTunes is a great move by Apple and it certainly makes the Apple TV even more attractive, but Apple are still moving into a competitive market, where Netflix, Movielink and Vudu are already present.