Apple Misses Mark On Movie Rentals - InformationWeek

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Apple Misses Mark On Movie Rentals

The movie studios have been slow to embrace the Web for movie distribution out of fear of piracy and cannibalizing the DVD business.

Apple reportedly has failed to reach its goal of offering 1,000 movies for rent on the iTunes store by the end of February.

As of the last day in February, iTunes had a total of 770 titles, including movies for rent and for sale, according to a tally compiled by Macworld.com. In checking the list of movies for rent on iTunes through an Apple TV or a computer, Macworld found 351 and 378 titles, respectively, far short of the 1,000-movie goal.

Apple launched iTunes movie rentals in January at the Macworld conference in San Francisco. In a press release issued at the time, Apple said it planned to "offer 1,000 titles by the end of February, including over 100 titles in stunning high-definition video with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound."

Apple also fell short on the latter promise. Macworld found 91 HD movies, with some of them not offering Dolby sound.

In announcing movie rentals, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said the company had signed all the major studios, including 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Disney, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and Sony Pictures. In a nod to DVD retailers, such as Wal-Mart, the studios agreed to make new films available 30 days after the DVD release.

Nevertheless, movie studios have been slow to embrace the Web for movie distribution out of fear of piracy and cannibalizing the DVD business, which comprises the vast majority of sales and rentals.

In the music business, Apple iTunes has fared much better. The site and Wal-Mart are the most popular music retailers in the United States, according to market researcher NPD Group. The iTunes store, which has more than 50 million customers, boasts a catalog of more than 6 million songs and has sold more than 4 billion, according to Apple.

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