Angry Robot

iTunes Movies

I was surprised to discover that the file only plays on one computer, which is confusingly different from iTunes’ music DRM. It would theoretically play on an Apple TV. But it’s not okay for it to play on my Mini, which costs more than the damned Apple TV?

Let’s not ignore the rent/buy confusion: some films are available both to rent and buy, some can only be bought, and some only rented.

Never mind that the purchase price is way too high. I suppose $10 for catalogue flicks is reasonable-sounding. But at this point, last years’ box office smashes are in the $5 DVD discount bins, and if you buy them that way, you can a) play them most anywhere you want and b) resell them, neither of which is possible with iTunes movies. $20 for a new release is foolish. A flyer in Toronto is advertising Dark Knight on Blu-Ray for $20. That’s a door-crasher-style price, but we all know that’s where things are headed.

Finally, the HD situation. HD versions are only available through Apple TV. Granted, there’s no point to having HD on the 320 vertical pixel iPhone, but it would certainly look good on my 800 vertical pixel computer, let alone the Mini hooked up to the flatscreen. Also, although I’ve obviously been unable to see it for myself, from what I’ve heard, this is HD-in-air-quotes HD, with visible pixellation and so forth.

I think I’d value an SD copy of a film at about $5, with no DRM. That would be better value and less effort than rent-and-rip, and more convenient than waiting for a free torrent to get in. At this point, with DRM-free MP3s the standard for music, it’s surprising that the studios are bothering with all of these limitations. They should be doing whatever the hell they can do to actually attract paying customers, shouldn’t they?

I realize Apple had to bend over backwards to get Big Content into their ecosystem; problems with DRM, pricing, and lack of HD all smell like classic studio bugbears. But regardless of whose fault it is, the iTunes movie experience leaves a lot to be desired.