updated 11:40 pm EDT, Thu March 22, 2012
Google Play Movies possibly forced into full sales
Google Play's Movies section may be steered into offering full movie sales against Google's own will. Multiple movie industry contacts described a situation to CNET where Google was interested in offering the service, but primarily as it was required to get any rentals from certain studios. Movie rentals were "tiny," the informants said, hinting that Google wanted to get what it could.
If successful, full sales could start up as soon as the summer. Google had turned down commenting, citing policies on rumors.
Google was late to offering its own movie rentals and only started its Movies section of Android Market, eventually rebranded as Google Play Movies, in mid-2011. While its selection and prices are competitive, its tight association with Android has meant little discovery beyond Android users, even though videos could play on the web. The Play initiative was partly meant to avoid associating videos too closely with the mobile OS.
Purchasing has been a problem for Google. Its music store has been easy, as DRM-free MP3s has meant that copy protection and syncing are either easy or out of its hands. Movie studios still insist on locking down videos, which has created problems for handling something such as a purchase on a Google TV. Without any permanent storage, a Google TV would have to stream the purchase remotely. Apple has a head start in this area, since it just got re-download and purchase streaming rights at the same time as it launched the 1080p Apple TV.