Apple’s iTunes has been massively successful for two reasons, I think. First of all it got popular thanks to the iPod, of course, but also it did sell well because of a very simple pricing model that Apple could enforce on the content providers. I think most customers loved this (except for linux users that did not like the idea of being locked into a proprietary solution, of course).
On the other hand, according to rumors, the TV shows and movie side of iTunes never took off and I believe the reason was that Apple wanted to enforce a certain pricing model and most likely studios were not so happy. The result of this is the NBC is out of the game, the Apple TV never took off and while I enjoy from time to time to watch video podcasts, having shows would be better. Also, did I mention that in countries other than the US most movies and shows are not available?
Now Amazon’s music download service (Amazon MP3)is not yet selling as good as iTunes, but they have been able to sign all the major labels to provide un-protected music and they are using MP3 that while less efficient than AAC it’s still a good format and is supported by all portable music players. Looks like Amazon is suddendly a few steps ahead of Apple and I can’t think why the next step should not be to sell movies and shows.
Apple still has one advantage, the iPod and the Apple TV, but they need the content. The iPod was successful prior to the iTunes store because people could load their own music, the store was a subsequence.
If Apple wants to keep up with Amazon, they need to become less rigid and think about the business they can build around iTunes and not only on selling the hardware. If they can make iPods and Apple TV’s and iTunes store complementary, they can probably stay ahead of the competition.
I was reading this article that does not seem to be huge news in itself as it mentions Apple will lower the prices in the UK in iTunes to match the price applied in the other European countries where the service is available.
What is interesting, though, is that Apple is saying that it wants to have a pan-European view for the content it provides and the pricing that is applied.
I live in Italy and most films and shows are dubbed, nevertheless sometimes I’d love to watch them in English, but unfortunately so far this hasn’t been possible in most cases, unless someone made the distribution in Italy. It is annoying when you read about online movie rentals or sales and then discover they are only available in the US. NBC lets you watch their shows online and for free, but only if you’re in the US.
I think that everyone who knows technology a bit and is an internet addict as I am, is waiting not-so-patiently for the day content will be available worldwide and for the same price.
I actually think this would also be a great solution against piracy. Think of being home, bored, you want to watch a movie, these are the options you have available:
- walk to BlockBuster and rent a movie (in the hope they still have the one you want)
- buy something on your satellite TV (if you have it and if they are showing anything good)
- rent it on netflix (if you have the service in your country and if you thought of renting it ahead of time)
- download it with bittorrent or eMule (if you thought about it ahead of time and now have the files ready and waiting on your hard disk)
Honestly for 4USD I would rent PLENTY. I often discover there’s nothing on SKY Movies when it’s too late to rent a movie (and this also makes me wonder why I pay a subscription to SKY).
See here the article: Apple to standardize iTunes music prices across Europe
Via AppleInsider: “The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant said it plans to offer over 1,000 hours of content by the end of the year“.
And then “Microsoft’s Xbox live will only offer film downloads for rent. Customers will have a window period of two weeks from the time they first purchase films to they expire. However, once a customer begins watching a flick, they’ll have only 24 hours to finish.“
I bet this is for US residents only.
This is also supposed to be the plan of Sony and the PS3.
Buying games online or renting them online can be very powerful. You’re home, bored, turn your Xbox on, pick a game and buy it within 2-3 clicks. Super!
I bet this will work with Movies too.