21st July 2007

Hey Apple – How ’bout some iTunes Movie RENTALS??

Recently a friend gave me a iTunes gift certificate to thank them for some help I gave them with their computer (I have terrific friends!), along with a note suggesting that I use it to buy a movie or two to watch on my new iPhone. So here I was browsing the iTunes Store and I found that I was really struggling with this, even though there were a number of movies offered for sale that I haven’t seen. As I was pondering why I was having such a hard time picking a movie, it occurred to me that this was because I am SO frugal that I hated to spend $10 to $15 on a movie I haven’t seen because there’s always the risk I won’t really like the movie. And out of the available movies I have already seen, although some were good, there weren’t any that I loved enough to watch again – and not just watch again, but watch enough times to make it worth spending the $10 to $15 on them.

This is exactly why I rent movies – the risk is much lower, since movie rentals average between $2 to $4 (depending on where you rent from and how often), and if there is one I’ve seen that I want to see again, it’s still cheaper to rent it 2 or 3 times than it is to buy it.

So come on Apple – how about a “movie rental” program for iTunes? If you already have the technology to limit how many times a song can be burned to CD or how many computers it can play on, surely you have the technology to limit how many times a rented movie can be viewed? Or how many devices it can be viewed on?

I suggest having a two-play limit – once on your computer and once on another device such as an iPod or iPhone – with enough smarts to know if I’ve had to interrupt my viewing and want to finish watching it later. After the number of viewings has expired, then it can either automatically disappear or remind me to delete it, since it can’t be watched again.

If Apple were to introduce such program, I wouldn’t hesitate to rent movies via iTunes often – if I don’t care for a movie, so what? It hasn’t cost me that much. And if I really like it, enough to buy it, then a little discount of a couple of dollars (since I’ve already spent that much renting it) would be nice too.

What do you say, Apple? Do you have what it takes to become the king of online movie rentals? I’m betting you do.

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