Movie Rentals Come to iTunes, Wal-Mart Shuts Down Video Downloads

Posted on 27 December 2007 Tags: Apple, iTunes, Movies

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The face of online video is evolving almost daily. New sites, new deals – no wonder the writers are on strike. It was announced today that Wal-Mart has shut down their online video download service after just a year. Engadget sites abandoned support from HP which put an end to their back-end. Users will still be able to watch the videos they purchased on Wal-Mart’s site but only on the machine originally used to download them. Without continued technology support the DRM makes the flicks unmovable. So one more try by one of the big guys, and one more down (who the hell buys movies from Wal-Mart’s site anyway).

Now on to Apple. It’s rumored Apple will make an official announcement at January’s Macworld that they have partnered with Fox to bring users online video rental downloads through iTunes. The deal is also said to include new physical DVDs from Fox that will include a pre-ripped format for transfer right into iTunes. Apple has been reluctant to venture into the rental model with music, but video is a different animal all together. Until now, Apple has been unable to convince many of the major movie studios to offer their content for download. There may be a similiar deal in the works with Steve Job’s bed buddy Disney.

Netflix added had a similar download rental component to their mail order rentals some time ago, but needless to say no support for iPods and iTunes integration.

So perhaps another big step for Apple taking the bull by the horns in a market with no clear leader, no clear technology and an unclear customer base. It would seem to be a good move for Apple to leverage the massive iPod / iTunes culture and take another stab at the home entertainment market they failed to capture with the first generation of Apple TV. But of course that’s like to evolve in January as well. Stay tuned.

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