Apple’s Laggard: iTunes Movie Store

Apple is justifiably beaming after its Q4, but the NYT points out that not everything Steve Jobs tries is a runaway success. Apple’s attempt to break into the video distribution business has yet to really take off:

A year after the Walt Disney Company became the first major studio to offer its movies on iTunes, Apple admits that iTunes is struggling to achieve the critical mass in film content that it has long held in music, and is facing stepped-up online competition from rivals like Amazon Unbox, Netflix Watch Now, Jaman and GreenCine.

Apple can blame part of its slow start on Hollywood studios, many of whom won’t distribute their movies via iTunes because of pricing disputes or a general uneasiness with Apple. It may also simply be too early for anyone to gain much traction in digital movie distribution right now — as Netflix reminded us yesterday, movie watchers seem happy with good old DVDs.

In the meantime, Apple can use iTunes as a place to experiment with video distribution. There’s the naked Natalie Portman movie — “Hotel Chevalier,” to film buffs —  and Apple is increasingly becoming a popular distribution hub for indie films. Next month Ed Burns will distribute his “Purple Violets” at iTunes without ever showing it in a theatre. NYT