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Thursday, October 13, 2005

`Apple's Baby Step Toward Movies'

Peter Burrows of Businessweek writes that studio execs are still worried about piracy, and reluctant to tinker with the release structure that lets them sell a movie over and over again. That's why Bob Iger was the only Hollywood type at the unveiling yesterday of Apple's iPod for video.

    ...[S]tudios have more to lose than the music industry's top labels did when they cut their landmark deal with Jobs back in 2001. While Hollywood suffered through a funk this summer, the studios are in better shape than their music brethren, thanks largely to a decades-old distribution model that lets studios sell films many times over -- first via the box office, then as DVDs, and finally by selling the broadcast rights.

    As such, studios are balking at shuttering these release `windows' by letting Apple immediately release their latest hits. Even Disney won't make its TV shows available on iTunes until a day after they air.

    There are technical constraints, too. Using Apple's updated iTunes software, customers can download an hourlong TV show in 20 minutes. At that rate, a full-length movie would take half an hour. And analysts say it would consume half a gigabyte of storage space -- or five gigabytes-plus, if the movie was shot in a high-definition version.

My question: if movies were available for download by Apple, let's say at the same time that DVDs were released, wouldn't that be additive revenue for the studios? Yes, some people would buy the download instead of the DVD (which wouldn't matter if the studio's profit margin was the same or better for a download versus a DVD)... but some people would buy the download in addition to the DVD. What about the movie you want to be able to watch on your iPod video while on the treadmill at the gym, but also show to your kids on the DVD player in your SUV?

Also, courtesy of DV Guru, here's an interesting review from the Unofficial Apple Weblog of what it's like to download an episode of "Lost" from Apple's online store.