Is the iTunes Movie Rental Service a Contender?

MacWorld 2008 is in full swing and Jobs’ keynote included several interesting announcements. Of course there’s plenty of buzzing with regards to disappointment, but what else is new? Among his announcements was the initiation of a la carte movie rentals courtesy of iTunes, but we’ve had a pretty good idea that movie rentals have been in the pipeline for quite a while. Is the service as it stands a contender though? The natural response is to say ‘yes'; after all Jobs is basically the King Midas of tech. In the grand scheme of things though, it’s a very pricey service with plenty of competitors that in many respects, offer superior options. Common sense would tell us that iTunes can’t come close to touching Netflix, especially now that they offer free unlimited streaming with each unlimited rental plan. For $9 per month, Netflix will give you unlimited physical rentals (one at a time) and unlimited streaming from their online library that is already six times the size of what iTunes will pack by the end of next month. With the iTunes service, the best you can do with your $9 is rent three movies; and that’s older SD movies by the way. You’ll need to add $1 per rental if you want new releases and another $1 if you’d like to bump it up to HD. Looking at the big picture, Apple’s plan seemingly deserves a huge WTF! But wait, almost the same thing could be said about their music service. How hard is it to find free or inexpensive music these days? Yet here we are, billions of DRM-protected iTunes tracks later and Apple is still steamrolling. The safe bet here is probably that iTunes movie rentals will also be a hit because despite being one of the most expensive options available, Apple is just too good. The beauty and simplicity of their product, the fact that their delivery mechanism already installed on millions upon millions of PCs and Macs, the tremendous integration between systems; it all adds up to success with the masses. And that, people, is what Apple is all about these days. Simplicity, quality, ease of use and of course a touch of marketing brilliance. Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to buy some more Apple stock; it won’t end here…

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