iTunes movie rentals


in Daily updates, Economics, Films and movies, Geek stuff, Internet matters

Ezra Pound quote

Last night, Emily and I tried renting a film through iTunes. I think it’s fair to say that this is another media technology that Apple got right. There are endless problems with systems that promise to let you buy films in the form of downloads. There are limitations on usage, and no guarantees that you can use them on future devices. Renting is quite different. Apple offers a service akin to that of a video store for a comparable price and without the bother of picking up and returning discs. With a bit of equally convenient competition, costs may even fall further.

Indeed, it seems pretty fair to predict that video shops have no future among those customers with computers and broadband access. Eventually, web based services will offer far more films at similar quality and far greater convenience.

Personally, I am rather looking forward to the day when it will be possible to spend $4-5 for two days worth of access to most any film ever made.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

BuddyRich June 18, 2008 at 4:31 pm

Its for services like this that we net neutrality laws.

Mind you even with compression techniques, Canada doesn’t have the broadband infratructure to deliver HD content over the net yet. Not when a compressed 1080P flick is between 8 and 9 GB per movie. Uncompressed its around 25GB… A standard DVD sure, thats 1 to 2GB compressed (5 to 9 uncompressed). Mind you with the major ISPs having “caps” of 60GB as well, not too many movies will be rented this way either as you’ll have to calculate overage. Unless of course you want to use Bell’s Video On Demand service. That won’t count toward your cap.

If we ever get Fibre to the Home like Europe, Japan or Korea, where 100MBps is affordable then sure… with the oligopoly here in Canada don’t expect that to happen anytime soon, and even then only in the big cities… its only slowly being rolled out in the US, and only Verizon is doing it (its FIOS service).

In the end its still much simpler (certainly quicker) to go to the video store (Elgin Street Video has quite the selection) or use a service like . Or better yet use the Library. The OPL has a good collection of DVDs.

I do think this is the wave of the future, I just don’t think the video store is dead quite yet… (in 10 years, though, for sure). Hopefully the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray will be the last (physical) format war. Until the compression technique format wars begin – they have to a certain extent with the apple supported H.264 MP4 vs. everything else supported Xvid/DivX…

Emily June 18, 2008 at 4:39 pm

But where will disgruntled youth work if there are no video stores?

Milan June 18, 2008 at 4:46 pm


I see no need for HD graphics, especially since I am going to be watching the film on a laptop. Such graphics would also be computationally taxing. My old iBook finds it somewhat taxing to decode a DVD, and harder still to manage with a DRM-laden file from iTunes. DRM and HD would thus overwhelm it pretty fast.

My ISP (Teksavvy) has a cap of 200GB per month. I don’t think I have ever used more than 25. Even if I got an iTunes movie every day, it would double my usage and leave me well below the cap.

I disagree that the store is quicker. After selecting a film, it barely takes any time for iTunes to buffer enough to avoid skipping problems.

The movie rental store definitely isn’t dead, primarily because relatively few people have (a) computers (b) broadband and (c) computer-to-TV hardware, or a willingness to watch movies on their computer screens.

Milan June 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm

But where will disgruntled youth work if there are no video stores?

Tech support.

BuddyRich June 19, 2008 at 7:21 am

Good points but who wants the whole family to huddle around the laptop to watch a movie? I think Dad would want to get the most out of the HD wizbang TV set the salesmen at future shop sold him? :-)

I’d vote for tech support as well but its all being offshored. So my vote goes to McDonalds…

Litty June 19, 2008 at 11:20 pm

What did you rent?

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