Practical Technology

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Want to Rent a Movie on Your Apple TV?

Online movie rentals have long been available on both cable and satellite TV systems. There’s always been one little, well not so little, problem. Actually, renting the movie tends to be a pain.

You usually must call up the service, jump through an automated voicemail system, and, in some situations, then wait for the next time the movie starts on its designated channel before you can watch it. Wouldn’t it be better if you could just rent movies online the same way you do at a hotel? Click the remote a few times, pick a movie, hit OK and you’re watching your movie. This is how home movie renting should be, but it’s not.

Until now. It appears that Apple is getting ready to offer exactly that kind of service for the Apple TV or your computer using the latest version of iTunes: iTunes 7.5.

ITune hacker, Evan DiBiase, blogging in his The Evan Series, revealed that when he dug into the iTunes 7.5’s text strings he found some very interesting new ‘words.’

What he found were text strings like: “rental-content,” “source-rental-info,” and “GET VOD ACCOUNT SELECTION LIST.” You don’t need to be a movie producer to figure out that Apple is getting iTunes ready to deliver movie rentals and VOD (Video on Demand).

Personally, I’m more likely to buy a movie or TV series, than rent one, but that’s just me. NetFlix and Blockbuster‘s millions of customers make it clear that movie rentals remain very popular. This could be just what Apple needs to give Apple TV sales a kick in the pants.

Since I’m already sold on Apple TV as the way to stream video from computers to televisions, I’d love to see the Apple TV get more popular. There’s also an aspect of these new strings that makes me wonder if Apple is about to do something that will make the movie studios happier with them.

What’s the thing that movie companies hate the most about selling movies through Apple and iTunes? Apple sets the price. Apple controls the channel. Notice that string, “source-rental-info?” Could it be, could it just be possible that Apple will let the studios rent movies directly to customers with iTunes simply serving as the pipeline from the producers to Apple TV and computer TV viewers?

This is pure speculation, but I am sure of two things. The first is that online movie rentals will make users much more interested in the Apple TV. The second is that if Apple elects to let the studios have a bigger share of the new rentals, the movie-makers will also get a lot more interested in the Apple TV. If both happens, then everyone-viewers, movie-makers and Apple-will be the happier for it.

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