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.