Apple looks to movie rentals to revive Apple TV box
Price cut, new system software coming
Macworld Expo Apple is to re-launch its Apple TV set-top box as a movie rental system, offering HD content for $4.99 a pop as a direct download. The hardware's getting cheaper too.
Regular, DVD-quality programming will be on offer to, CEO Steve Jobs said, at a lower price: $3.99 for new titles, $2.99 for old ones.
Viewers will have just 24 hours to finish watching a rented movie once they've started watching it. But they'll have up to 30 days to press Play before the content vanishes from the Apple TV's hard drive.
The downloads will incorporate a Dolby 5.1-channel soundtrack, and they'll also be available to Mac and PC users through iTunes in the usual way, and with the same restrictions. Jobs claimed movies can be watched almost as soon as they've started downloading.
They'll also play on iPods and iPhones - hence the addition of chapter marks, subtitles and different-language soundtracks to those two devices.
Jobs said all the major studios, including Touchstone, Miramax, MGM, Lionsgate, Newline, Fox, Disney, Paramount, Universal, Sony and Warner, had agreed to provide rental content - a big improvement on the turn out for iTunes movie downloads, launched last year. Then a much smaller number of studios were willing to participate.
Still, Apple managed to sell 7m movies in the last 12 months, though Jobs admitted this figure was lower than Apple had been anticipating.
Apple TV will also gain the ability to show photos stored on Flickr and websites hosted by Apple's own .Mac service. It'll now display video podcasts as well as the audio variety.
Movie rentals will become available in the US later today. The rest of us will have to wait until later this year. Similarly, Apple TV owners will be able to buy music and movies directly too. Purchased tracks and videos can then be synched with an iTunes library, much as iPhone downloads are today.
The new Apple TV will cost $229 for the 160GB version, down from $299. Presumably the 40GB model's for the chop.
Jobs said the new Apple TV system software will be available in two weeks' time.
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The aim is to ensure none are sold in the UK
US$ 229 equates to .... £199
You are having a Laaaaaarfffff.
Beyond the usual dollar conversion debacle to the extreme if it was ANYWARE close to a true dollar price conversion for the hardware it may make people consider it ....
Any news on titles?
I don't have a US iTunes login; do we have any indication of the titles they're getting in HD, and most importantly if there's anything much that isn't already on HD-DVD or BluRay?
Apple *still* don't get it
We've been waiting 10 years for the market to catch up with us and offer us a viable, easy, cheap way of buying high-quality (e.g. Divx) movies/TV that we can store indefinitely on our HDDs. I would pay $2 for an episode of, e.g., House, which would be $40 or the cost of a DVD per season - without any of the associated costs of a physical medium (warehousing, DVD printing, transport ot shops etc.), meaning more money for the producers and distributors.
So stop bloody tying us to your crappy limits and perishable media and give us what the market is heading towards anyway.