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Apple iTunes movie downloads

iPod.jpgThe latest movie download service to enter the market is Apple with their iTunes service. They too are restricting content use. You can download the movie through the proprietry iTunes system, download it to your Apple device or watch it on your computer. That's all folks, talk about restricted. However they do boast 640x480 "near DVD quality", where possible.

Wow, if people complained about Amazon then what are they going to say about this service? What do you think, is this just too restricted, or do you own an iPod so you don't care?

You can tell already I'm not a fan. I still think that Amazon have done the best job they can with the MPAA restrictions. Frankly I think it's time that the studio's realise they are not going to beat filesharing and it's time to embrace it into the business model, not only that but perhaps releasing a little control and adding a little trust.

For example, would you accept a film download service that embedded some unique ID through the film that identified you as the purchaser? I would, if the service allowed me to take that film and do whatever I wanted with it, like cut to DVD. What do you think? Is there some other way that they aren't thinking about that could make a service work?

What do you think of the iTunes service? Is it a little too restrictive? Interestingly an article in the BBC has some surprising figures:

The Jupiter Research report reveals that, on average, only 20 of the tracks on a iPod will be from the iTunes shop... ...83% of iPod owners do not buy digital music regularly. The minority, 17%, buy and download music, usually single tracks, at least once per month... ...only 5% of the music on an iPod will be bought from online music stores.

No surprises there, but amazingly there's a killer finding in that report, something which blows away all these concerns and attempts to restrict, control, and imprison:

Perhaps the only salient characteristic shared by all owners of portable music players was that they were more likely to buy more music - especially CDs.

Oh lord. You mean this whole filesharing and digital model is actually increasing sales? Tell the MPAA quick!



Although I own an iPod, I feel that it's way restrictive, iTunes, I mean as for not being able to just easily transfer other files I bought from Napster. The consumer is stuck with having to contend with what they are given, I cant wait for Microsoft's Zune to come out, and see how they will redefine film downloads.

While I'm as annoyed as Richard about Apple's foray into video (and audio for that matter), there are a few ways in which I think iTunes is superior to Amazon.

(Note: I do admit do being a Mac/iTunes/iPod user but not really in an obsessive way. I switched to Mac for a stable Unix development/sysadmin box...iTunes was a convenience. An iPod replaced my horribly broken CD player in my truck, and I use it for little else.)

First, iTunes allows you to authorize 5 computers to play content along with as many iPods as you would like. This compares to Amazon's authorization of 2 computers and 2 portable media players. The way my house will be setup soon, I will have 3 media playing computers so that already blows Unbox out as an option. A lot of folks as heavily into A/V as I am also take a machine to the car and skip the whole iPod to stereo connection garbage so that would make 4 in their cases. If we took more road trips, I'd be right there with them to keep the kids happy.

Second, Apple works with Windows or Mac. Now while I would prefer Linux for my system (I use Linux/Mac MythTV media players), I'm always of the opinion that more cross-platform compatibility is better.

Third, Apple has a plan to take the video to televisions in the near future (iTV) without additional authorized devices (from what I understand...I could be wrong about auth). Unbox looks built for those with Windows MCE but still limits them to 2 systems because they're MCE.

I will give a nod to Amazon on resolution because it seems to be closer to native DVD, but quality will have more to do with the encoding than anything. I'm unwilling to buy content from either to try to judge quality, though.

Regardless of my preferences, though, I'm sticking to DVDs and CDs for the time being. Someone has to come with an HD download service with fewer restrictions to get me interested.

I like the idea of tagging the movies as long as they can truly secure the tag. Given their attempts at DRM and anti-piracy measures, we should all have our doubts about that. No doubt somebody would crack the encryption in a matter of weeks and render the tags useless.

As to filesharing research, you can probably find several articles on Slashdot detailing how even the old-style Napster users bought more music than those who didn't use the service. Interesting, isn't it?

Hap, I like the note you made about not being too obsessive with your Mac. ;D

Hey Hap. In the research above they actually state that those using digital music buy more music.

I've read about encoding information in the picture and audio before, and not just in one place but throughout the film. It doesn't have any affect when you watch it, but if someone checks the file they can see the encoded information.

So if it stored the store and transaction ID, people would buy but be less likely to distribute. I certainly wouldn't.

I was agreeing with you about the buying more music thing. I was just saying it goes even further than just digital music buyers. There was research before iTMS that said that people doing illegal file sharing bought more music than those who didn't.

As to encoding, I guess you're talking about some form of digital watermarking. That might work better than what I was thinking of, but I still have my doubts and would be concerned about a pirated copy being distributed with my watermark.

Simone: Just going for full disclosure so everyone knew I was biased... ;-)

A very interesting article today in Download Squad tells us that some German company has come up with a "watermarking" solution for audio files.

It uses a high frequency tone which identifies the purchaser of the song and it runs throughout, allowing no copy restrictions to be placed on the file, but the original purchaser identifable from the track.

Since it's an audio watermark it could be applied to a film just as easily.


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