updated 06:25 pm EST, Tue March 2, 2010
iTunes Rewind resurfaces with iPad in mind
Apple is talking to movie studios about letting iTunes customers stream full-length features, a leak Tuesday evening suggests. Two anonymous sources aware of the negotiations say it would echo similar discussions for music and TV that would take iTunes away from its dependence on movie downloads and to a locker that would simply hold what the user owns and stream it accordingly. The move would likely be targeted at the iPad and notebooks, where free storage is at a premium.
The CNET contacts don't say how close Apple might be to landing a deal, though a key obstacle would be portability of rights to other devices and software. Studios want any server-stored content to be portable and for years have been developing DECE, a multi-platform approach that would allow a movie bought on one service to play on another device or in another app that recognizes the DECE locker system. Apple has often been insistent that any anti-copying protection come from itself but might not have much choice if it wants the content onboard.
The iPad may be Apple's main bargaining chip, as a success for the tablet could persuade studios that granting online storage rights would trump the pressure to allow cross-platform sharing.
Regardless of content, Apple is relatively late to the concept of owned streaming media as other companies already depend on it, albeit with limited success. Amazon and VUDU are the most notable examples as their respective video on demand services grant access across many competing devices; these have only found support from a handful of companies, however, and led VUDU to eventually scrap its own hardware in favor of deals with Blu-ray player and TV designers. The largest incoming threat comes from Google, whose possible buyout of Catch Media could lead to purchasable YouTube videos that would play on destinations well beyond the web.