Finally! Movies on my PC the same day they're on DVD.
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The second reason is that Apple wants you to use its gadgets. While movies can be downloaded to watch on either a Mac or a PC (only standard definition for a PC), they will also run on your iPod, iPhone, and Apple TV. They will not work on similar gadgets from other companies. Apple TV is the real fair-haired child here. Now that new versions of the software enable you to both rent and buy movies, Apple wants more people to fork over $299 for this extra set-top box that wirelessly connects your digital library to your TV.Skip to next paragraph
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Hear that sound of bells tolling? It tolls for the DVD. It only seems like a few weeks ago that Blu-ray won the format battle against HD-DVD. These high-definition movie discs promise next-generation visuals that will blow away the aging DVD.
Few people have bought into the idea, so it's not like the DVD will disappear tomorrow. But as Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves said in an interview with Wired: Apple's digital distribution plan "points to the weak spots in Netflix's and Blockbuster's strategies."
Those two offer plans that let you rent DVDs through the mail, and both have dabbled in digital download deals that let users pay a monthly fee – not per movie like iTunes. But Netflix and Blockbuster have their hands tied by all the sticky content-rights issues that come with digital downloads.
"[Netflix] won't be able to get a lot of new content now, next month, or even four or five months from now," Mr. Hargreaves said. "Those issues don't apply to Apple since it's selling movies a la carte versus subscriptions."
Apple is also a step ahead because it doesn't need to transition between DVDs and digital files – it's been all digital from the start. But Netflix and Blockbuster will probably provide both options for customers for several years to come, until digital distribution is de rigueur for all movie rentals and purchases.
Of course, Microsoft is tooting its horn this week. It just announced that it's going to sell TV shows for download onto its Zune media player – two years after iTunes did that for iPods. (You can already download movies via Microsoft's Xbox 360 video-game consoles. But it's not a big market for the company.) Jobs has basically eaten Microsoft's lunch in this particular field.
Life just gets easier, eh? We can get our books, music, TV, and movies without ever having to move an inch from anywhere. I'm not sure that necessarily makes it a better world, but it sure makes it a more convenient one.