There’s a new round of thinly sourced speculation today about a story that first surfaced last spring: Will Apple begin offering a movie rental service this fall? The gist: Several months ago the FT reported that Apple was talking to Disney and Viacom’s Paramount about renting movies via iTunes for $3 for 30 days. Now there are screenshots taken from iTunes that show…well, not much, really: Just the fact that Apple’s iTunes designers have thought about the possibility of renting movies and other content from the online store.
Online movie rentals are already available through the likes of Amazon, Movielink and CinemaNow. Like online movie downloads, however, they haven’t taken off. There are still technical problems to resolve — moving large movie files via broadband is possible but not a snap — but the bigger issue here is a business one. The movie studios make most of their money from DVD sales and other distribution channels, and they aren’t inclined to offer up real competition to those cash cows until they’ve milked them completely. At a minimum, for online movie rentals to be successful, you would need to have all the major studios offering up all of their movies at the same time they’re available in every other venue–and we’re nowhere close to that right now. Engadget, David Watanabe