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Apple Movie Store Only Serving Disney Films? 190

Alex Romanelli, Variety writes "Variety has the scoop on Apple and Amazon's forthcoming movie download services. Apple's will launch with only Disney as a partner. Amazon will have most, and possibly all, of the major studios on board. The reason comes down to price, insiders said. Amazon.com will launch its movie download service later this week, numerous sources confirmed, while Apple will start selling films on Tuesday as part of iTunes."
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Apple Movie Store Only Serving Disney Films?

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  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:43AM (#16053316)
    First of all, the Vareity article (which doesn't necessarily know anything for certain) says:

    "The only studio that will definitely [emphasis added] be part of Apple's movie store at launch is Disney.

    So that still doesn't preclude other studios being on board at the time of launch [macworld.com]. Even so, it still goes on to say:

    "Other studios will likely join iTunes in the next year."

    Further:

    "The reason Amazon will have content from most major studios, while Apple may have only one, comes down to price, insiders said. Because it also sells DVDs, Amazon has agreed to studio demands that digital wholesale prices not undercut those of DVDs. [emphasis added] As a result, Amazon.com's digital download prices are expected to range from $9.99 to $19.99 -- about the same as those for other online retailers such as CinemaNow, Movielink and AOL.

    Initially, Apple was pushing to sell all films for $9.99, just as it sells songs for a flat price of 99 and all TV shows for $1.99. But due to studio pressure, it will launch with two price points: $9.99 for library titles, $14.99 for new pics in the DVD window."


    Not only is this the same type of behavior we saw to a certain extent with iTunes in the context of music, and moreso with television programming, I'm quite glad that Apple is pressuring the industry on the price issue, similar to the way they took a significant part in pressuring MPEG LA [com.com] for reasonable licensing terms [com.com], which made the MPEG-4 family of protocols, including H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10, actually usable by normal people for content creation, broadcasting, and playback without the encumbrances of royalties and per-use/per-time fees that would have all but killed MPEG-4 and H.264 on anything but OEM devices and commercial broadcast services.

    Then there's the question of usability: the same thing that has made the iTunes universe so attractive to users is still there as it has transitioned to video. It's not just a simple "download a media file and do with it what you will" service (though it can be treated as such; note I'm not talking about this in the context of DRM, I'm speaking in terms of the process via which you download something and play it) - it's a completely integrated system that normal people can actually use that has a pleasant user experience. With things like Front Row [apple.com] now shipping on all of Apple's systems, they've created an end-to-end solution that actually makes viewing, using, or listening to the content a tightly integrated experience that "just works". The turnkey nature of iTunes/iPod/Front Row has been one of the key reasons for its continuing success.
    • by cptgrudge ( 177113 ) <cptgrudge@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @12:05PM (#16053496) Journal

      (though it can be treated as such; note I'm not talking about this in the context of DRM, I'm speaking in terms of the process via which you download something and play it)

      I haven't looked into these services recently, but it does intrigue me. Will the DRM that holds the files down enable me to put the video file on my 2 TB storage server in the basement and stream it to my media player of choice? Because if not, this is useless to me. With the advent of large hard disk capacity, and now digital distribution, we certainly have the ability. But I don't want to watch movies on my PC, and getting a dedicated Media Center PC is ridiculous. I want to be able to watch it on any of the three TVs in my house. And why would I get a digital download that costs the same as a normal DVD just so I can have the "convenience" of watching a movie on my PC (and little screened iPod Video)?

      The cost of fuel notwithstanding, why don't I just buy the physical DVD (or get it shipped to me), and get the video file myself? [google.com] I realize it's a convenience thing, non-tech users can't do it, etc. But really, how hard is it to install some software and follow some short instructions? I'd bet that even non-tech users would be willing to follow the process if they can get additional value out of something they own with relatively minor frustration.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        There are rumors that there will be a device introduced alongside this that will allow basically that use, yes. (Basically a small network access point that can be streamed the movie/song from your authorized computer.)

        It won't go to any device, but your DVD player can't download movies anyway. It will take a 'compatable' player, and Apple will probably have standard outs for normal TVs on it.
        • Good to know that they are thinking about it. Is this device rumored to be cheaper than an original Xbox? Cause I soft-modded my Xbox to run XBMC, and I just run movies and music off of a samba share. And XBMC does a lot more than that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            The rumors that I've seen haven't mentioned a price. I'd figure $50 or so more than the 'AirPort Express Base Station with AirTunes' device which gives similar music-only functionality, so that would be $170-$200.

            Of course, it could just replace it at the same price.
      • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @12:21PM (#16053604)
        I haven't looked into these services recently, but it does intrigue me. Will the DRM that holds the files down enable me to put the video file on my 2 TB storage server in the basement and stream it to my media player of choice?

        Perhaps.

        If your "choice" happens to coincide with QuickTime, iTunes, or an iPod for playback when using the Apple store, or a Windows Media-compatible playback solution if using one of the Windows Media DRM stores.

        But you can certainly put the files physically on any type of NAS or SAN or storage server or whatever storage device you see fit.

        There are of course various tools for stripping the DRM from iTunes DRM (FairPlay) and Windows Media DRM encumbered files.

        The cost of fuel notwithstanding, why don't I just buy the physical DVD (or get it shipped to me), and get the video file myself?

        Well, if it's that important to you that it be completely DRM-free in the context of your own entertainment equipment and uses, future applications, etc., then sure - get the DVD and rip the video. The problem is that this is technically "illegal" in certain jurisdictions, and that a great many people will think it's "too complicated". If you're talking about it from a purely technical point of view, someone like yourself probably should just buy and rip the DVD.

        I realize it's a convenience thing, non-tech users can't do it, etc.

        That's the key: Convenience. Impulse. (Almost-)instant gratification. Total vertical integration. In the context of Apple's iTunes store, it "just works".

        You hit the nail on the head.

        But really, how hard is it to install some software and follow some short instructions? I'd bet that even non-tech users would be willing to follow the process if they can get additional value out of something they own with relatively minor frustration.

        You might think that, but it's simply not true. They're not going to be downloading DVD ripping tools and uploading video files to their 2TB in-house media server and then setting up MythTV on their new Linux media center. They're going to get a Mac mini, hook its DVI connector up to their HDTV, click on the movie poster in iTunes, click "Download" automatically charging their credit card $9.99, and then plop down on their couch and watch it with the nice little remote control. All without having to know how to do anything, and trust me: that's how the majority of people want things.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cptgrudge ( 177113 )

          You might think that, but it's simply not true.

          Thinking about it again, I'd have to agree. I have trouble getting my non technical friends to use CDex to rip music because they are intimidated by the options. They'd much rather just use whatever has the fewest clicks, even if it doesn't produce the best quality.

          • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
            Can't you help them set up the options? After that's set, there's minimal clicks to getting the rip started anyhow.
            • I can and do help them set up options, but some of them just Don't Get It. I know how simple CDex is when it's set up too, that's why it's frustrating when they dislike it. All they seem to want is something pretty with limited options, and they don't care about anything else. Tech-illiterate is closer to the truth for them, and they fear those little check boxes if they accidentally open up the Options. There's little I can do to help with that.

              I imagine that these people would buy into a movie downl

            • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @01:50PM (#16054295) Homepage Journal
              Can't you help them set up the options? After that's set, there's minimal clicks to getting the rip started anyhow.
              It's still pretty hard to beat iTunes's default behavior of "insert disc, iTunes connects automatically to CDDB, automatically rips the files in AAC@128kbps (without any DRM), automatically adds the files to your music library, automatically ejects the CD then plays a warning sound to tell you it's done."

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Firehed ( 942385 )
                I agree, though I personally took the eighteen seconds it takes to change it to rip to 192k VBR MP3, something that most people won't bother with. Doesn't matter for people who use iTunes/iPod for all of their media needs (by and large, I do as well), but for those of us who like the flexiblity won't want to deal with AAC. This whole simplicity concept is why Apple seems to succeed so easily (discounting the OS market, but they're gaining market share faster than ever last I heard) - the trick to keeping
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Golias ( 176380 )
                  If you care most about "flexibility" then MP3 is every bit as stupid of an option as AAC.

                  Neither of the "A"s in "AAC" stand for "Apple." AAC is an industry-standard MPEG audio layer, just like MP3 is, and is every bit as "flexible." It just happens to be one which delivers better sound with fewer bits.

                  If you are worried about formats becoming obsolete, then there are only two good choices for archiving your music:

                  1. Uncompressed
                  2. Lossless compression (such as FLAC or Apple Lossless)
    • by NcF ( 847200 )
      Amazon.com's digital download prices are expected to range from $9.99 to $19.99

      I don't know about all of you, but IF I'm going to pay $20 for a DVD, I want a CD and case with it....
      • by 1lus10n ( 586635 )
        Why would they give you a CD when your buying a DVD ? ;-P
      • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @03:53PM (#16055194) Homepage
        This is going to be the biggest problem with movie downloads. If you can't burn them to DVD and watch them on your home theatre, or at least download a DVD quality movie, then I seriously doubt that people will be willing to pay full price (or even close to it) for the movies. If they made the movies $2, but they were 320x240, and you could only watch them on your computer, then that would be fine. It would be great to check out movies that I wasn't sure if I wanted to buy. Later if I wanted the movie, I would buy a physical copy. However, paying full price for something that takes 5 hours to download, and won't play on my home theatre is just stupid.
    • At the moment, Apple is only selling TV shows at 320x240. Great for iPods, but if I'm buying a movie, I demand DVD resolution minimum. Give me 480p, Apple.

      I imagine this will cause some difficulties- at the moment, iTunes can simply transfer TV shows on to iPods, but if you downloaded a 480p movie, the iPod wouldn't be able to play it- imagine iTunes having to convert multiple 2-hour video files from 480p to 320x240 every time it syncs with the PC...that could take quite a while, especially on older machi
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mr Pippin ( 659094 )
        Don't forget sound, too. Can I choose to get surround sound (Dolby Digital/DTS)? Definitely need DVD quality picture AND sound if I'm going to be paying basically the same amount as I would for local retails sales for a DVD.
      • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @01:20PM (#16054049)
        Well, you're forgetting a couple of things. One, for months, many rumor sites, analysts, and the prevailing best educated guesses have reiterated that there is definitely a "real" video iPod on the way (i.e., with a bigger screen and better video decoding capabilities), and that neither the video iPod nor the iTunes movie store would be launched until both were ready. So there may indeed be a new iPod alongside this announcement anyway. Two, even the current iPod can play up to 480x480 (albeit MPEG-4 Part 2), so this suggests that the decode capability just wasn't powerful enough on the current generation iPods. There's no reason higher resolution content can't be played back on a lower resolution screen: some of the detail will just be lost.

        Of course, you are correct about the disparity in general between watching something on a portable device, versus a nice big TV. Hopefully Apple handles this gracefully, because people won't want 320x240 movies (though, even the 320x240 TV shows are not bad on a standard def TV, for most peoples' tastes).
        • Haven't forgot it; while a lot of rumor sites and analysts believe a "real" video iPod is on the way, nobody believes it will be introduced at this event; in fact, AppleInsider (who is almost always right) has stated they have confirmation that there will be updated 5G iPods at the event- with higher capacities at the same price, nothing else. I'm guessing 40 GB instead of 30 GB.

          I don't think a 640x480 iPod will come until next year, or the end of this year.
        • Of course, you are correct about the disparity in general between watching something on a portable device, versus a nice big TV. Hopefully Apple handles this gracefully, because people won't want 320x240 movies (though, even the 320x240 TV shows are not bad on a standard def TV, for most peoples' tastes).

          iTMS videos are noticeably worse than Full D1 (720x480) standard-definition captures, actually. I've purchased the same episode of a show I recorded, hoping the all-digital MP4 would be better. It's not. Th

  • by saboola ( 655522 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:46AM (#16053342)
    Does the name iTunes Music Store still really apply? If they are now selling movies and music, you would think a name change would come about. Just a thought.
  • Price is important (Score:5, Insightful)

    by soft_guy ( 534437 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:46AM (#16053345)
    DVDs are pretty cheap these days. If this service is not cheaper than a DVD, I wouldn't use it. This is why I think Amazon's service might not be all that popular. Can I burn it to a DVD? No, I'm probably just buying lower quality, DRM files that take forever to download - and its MORE than a DVD. No way.

    I'll probably try Apple's service. Wiht their TV shows on iTunes, the problem has been lack of variety. That will apparently continue to be a problem with films on this service.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by neoform ( 551705 )
      Actually, I prefer the idea of having a digital copy of movies i own. DVD's get scratched very easily and stop playing properly.. I'm a bit of a backup nut so i wouldn't lose my copy either which makes it all that much more attractive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Zanth_ ( 157695 )
        If you are a back-up nut then back-up your own DVD's! This is fair use in Canada and perhaps?? in the US.
        You would likely be able to get better quality too by using a lower compression or none at all. Buying from Amazon or iTunes won't do much if your HD craps out. So what will you do? Back them up to DVD's? Gets rather pointless. It woudl be far better to spend the same amount or a bit more on a rather uncompressed (though still compressed) version of the movie, hard copy, case, extras, and then do th
        • by neoform ( 551705 )
          Copying a dvd to my computer into 1 file means i have to convert it to divx or something like that which means degraded quality.

          when they made the DVD format they didn't want people copying them and that's what's stopping me now..
          • by pyros ( 61399 )
            Copying a dvd to my computer into 1 file means i have to convert it to divx or something like that which means degraded quality

            You can create an iso image of the decrypted files. Single file, uncompressed backup that should be directly playable by any decent software dvd player.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cptgrudge ( 177113 )

        I've done this with CDs for years, as I imagine many others do. The first thing I do after I get an audio CD is rip it to ~224 Kbit OGG files and place the files on my storage server downstairs. I can play the audio through my computer, my portable player, and any TV which has a media player device like XBMC. Once I upgrade my storage server with more space (and get a better backup policy than I have now), I'll move on to ripping video from all DVDs.

        I'm thinking of picking up another original Xbox (or

    • by WaKall ( 461142 )
      How about:

      1) Buy the physical disk on Amazon.com
      2) Get the digitally-delivered copy immediately

      I have no clue if they're going to offer that, but there's not really anyone else in the market that can.
  • No story here... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rahrens ( 939941 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:47AM (#16053352)
    Steve's on the Disney Board! This isn't a real surprise, give the stories about Hollywood's unhappiness over Apple's insistance on a single price for all movies, according to recent stories all over the Mac press.

    Let Disney show 'em it works, then they'll fall all over themselves to join in, just like the music folks did...
    • Also, when Apple started selling TV shows, ABC was the first on board. ABC is owned by Disney.
  • by gentimjs ( 930934 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:48AM (#16053364) Journal
    Im sure both will be DRM-encumbered, and while the apple one will probably be quicktime-centric in some way I'm sure the amazon offering will be windows bases and require WMP in some form.
    No thanks. Until they sell me a non-drm'ed movie download I can watch with xine/mplayer on my Solaris/Sparc desktop, I'll stick to the pirate bay...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Buy a movie download from a DRMed service, then download that same movie from the Pirate Bay. That way you get the enjoyment only Solaris/SPARC can deliver while still rewarding movie studios for putting out a product that you like.
      • by nkh ( 750837 )
        But it's NOT a good product if you still have to download it on the PirateBay after you paid for it. That's the problem: if you have paid for it, they'll continue to give us this crappy format (DRM + bad quality) wihtout caring about our real needs (OTOH they'll blame it on piracy if no one buys it, we're SOL anyway).
        • by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

          That's the problem: if you have paid for it, they'll continue to give us this crappy format (DRM + bad quality) wihtout caring about our real needs (OTOH they'll blame it on piracy if no one buys it, we're SOL anyway).

          Last time I checked, H.264 was far from a crappy format. What you say are "our real needs" is so far off from reality that it makes me laugh, especially if you're talking about the regular users. Just look at the iPod as proof of success. What makes it so popular isn't the fact that it's white

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        'Rewarding' a movie studio by paying ten or twenty bucks for a DRM'd video file is like 'rewarding' a mugger by getting raped too.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 )
          'Rewarding' a movie studio by paying ten or twenty bucks for a DRM'd video file is like 'rewarding' a mugger by getting raped too.

          This is a grossly offensive and inappropriate analogy. Almost nobody likes DRM, but the fact is that most studios wouldn't allow Apple or others to sell them as downloads without it. $14.99 is still cheaper than the cost of 2 people to see a movie at the theater (in most areas), and often times less expensive than the retail DVD. Simply because you don't like DRM doesn't give
          • This is a grossly offensive and inappropriate analogy.

            It is certainly offensive.

            $14.99 is still cheaper than the cost of 2 people to see a movie at the theater (in most areas), and often times less expensive than the retail DVD.

            I'm not sure $14.99 plus the cost of a DVD on which to burn it is cheaper than the cost of the DVD in the store, most of the time. But then, The cost of iTunes downloads plus a CD on which to burn them is not cheaper than the record store for me either, but some people still g

            • No, the basic, unalienable, human right to express themselves guarantees that, just as it guarantees you the right to complain about it. Feel free to lambast the person for making comparisons you find offensive, but claiming they don't have the right to do so, is either a poor, inappropriate choice of words on your part, or a fundamental disagreement about basic human rights between yourself and most human rights organizations and myself.

              I never said that they didn't have the right. I said they didn't ha
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            "This is a grossly offensive and inappropriate analogy"

            Perhaps a better analogy would be "get raped, and then pay your rapist"? I didn't know being mugged was such a touchy subject.

            "Almost nobody likes DRM"

            I understand that many people don't care about DRM, most end-users don't know or care what it is. But I'd never think that anyone actually likes having their rights restricted.

            "but the fact is that most studios wouldn't allow Apple or others to sell them as downloads without it"

            I sorry, I
          • Simply because you don't like DRM doesn't give you the excuse to compare it to two violent and often times negatively life altering experiences.

            Often times? Are there times when being mugged and raped turn out to be life altering in the positive sense? ;-)

            • Often times? Are there times when being mugged and raped turn out to be life altering in the positive sense? ;-)

              There are times when bad things happen to us but they end up having a positive effect. Perhaps a rape victim becomes a couselor for other rape victims, and helps others heal their hurt. We don't have too much control over what happens to us, but we do have a lot of control over the way we react to it.
          • "$14.99 is still cheaper than the cost of 2 people to see a movie at the theater"

            Sure. And it would be a great deal if they were selling you a movie that was currently in the theaters. But these sound like movies that are currently available for purchase or rental at any store. And since it will take a lot of time to download around 1GB of movie data, you might as well buy the movie from the supermarket or rent it from the rental place next door.

            At least if you buy the thing, you can sell it, or more lik
    • Until they sell me a non-drm'ed movie download I can watch with xine/mplayer on my Solaris/Sparc desktop, I'll stick to the pirate bay

      I'm with you, Matey. Until the swabs make it available to me on those little wheelie discs with the colored cellophane frames and I can project it on to my Mom's laundry hanging in the backyard, I'm going the copyright infringement route as well.

      Stupid studios! When will they ever learn they have to cater to ALL our home playback technologies, no matter how eccentric or whi
      • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
        Dude, all he's asking for is standards-compliant DRM-free media, not some esoteric demand for a xine-specific video.
    • When anyone uses words like "DRM-encumbered" when describing iTunes, it's proof they've never, ever tried buying anything from iTunes or had any personal experience with its extremely liberal DRM--so liberal you never notice it's there.

      I'm sure the artists will just love that you're making such a defiant stand with Pirate Bay by not compensating them. It amuses me that you attempt a moral stance against DRM in one breath, then advocate piracy in the next. Ah, Slashdot.
  • by Jarnis ( 266190 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:48AM (#16053365)
    Full price of DVD, except you don't get the box nor the DVD (and most likely none of the DVD extra features), and you can't even burn the DVD from the DRM-infected file you spent ages to download.

    Sure, this is going to be a HUGE hit.

    Not.

    To be fair, I don't think Apple's pricing is going to work either.
    • by daviddennis ( 10926 ) <david@amazing.com> on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @12:01PM (#16053469) Homepage
      Why couldn't you get the DVD extras? Surely if you're downloading a DVD you can download the extras too.

      There's a huge difference between $9.99 (which I think is doable for many customers) and $15.99 (for which I think people will keep going to the DVD store). So if any online movie download store succeeds, it will be Apple's.

      However, I can't help but notice that there are a lot of titles at my local DVD store for $6.99 or thereabouts. I don't know if this will be as lucerative a venture as music, especially since you tend to listen to music a lot but only view movies once or twice. Rental may well still be the best movie model for most people.

      D
      • However, I can't help but notice that there are a lot of titles at my local DVD store for $6.99 or thereabouts. I don't know if this will be as lucerative a venture as music, especially since you tend to listen to music a lot but only view movies once or twice. Rental may well still be the best movie model for most people.

        Yup, NetFlix still seems like the best deal for my money. I hardly ever actually want to own a DVD anyway. There's always something new to watch. Plus, it's not like you really own DRM'd m

    • While I agree with the premise of your post, I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon did offer the DVD extras. Keep in mind that they try to offer value-added services with their "digital lockers" (PDF manuals for hardware purchases, book excerpts, etc).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      > Full price of DVD, except you don't get the box nor the DVD (and most likely none of the DVD extra features),
      > and you can't even burn the DVD from the DRM-infected file you spent ages to download.
      > Sure, this is going to be a HUGE hit.
      > Not.

      Then you are not the target audience. I bet you never order pay-per-view movies on cable either. Well a lot of people do. They want it now, and they don't want to go out to the store to get it. This will be a great hit, because they can download the mo
      • by Jarnis ( 266190 )
        Problem is, you won't get it 'now' on a download store.

        You get it in a couple of hours. Or with crap quality.
      • This is true, however, Pay-Per-View movies only cost (at most) $4 or so. I don't think they would be nearly as popular as they are -- and I'm not even sure how popular they are -- if they cost any more than that.

        I think $10 may be a stretch for what most people will pay for something that's divorced from a physical object (that might otherwise give it some perceived value) and extremely limited in what can be done with it.

        At $4.99, I think these things would sell like hotcakes. At $9.99, I think they'll do
      • by rblum ( 211213 )
        You watch it WHILE it is downloading.


        Wouldn't that be "You watch ....[Buffering].... it whi ....[Buffering]... it is down [Server unreachable]"?

        For all the technical awesomeness, the Internet is *still* fairly fragile in the face of large streaming downloads. (And if you happen to use Adelphia, go slit your wrists now.)
  • by thewiz ( 24994 ) * on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:49AM (#16053372)
    It's a store of music
    A store of tunes
    It's a store of lyrics
    And a store of videos
    There's so much that we share
    On Peer-to-Peer, we swear
    It's a small store after all

    There is just one Apple
    And one golden iTunes
    And a smile means
    Profits for ev'ryone
    Though the Disney divides
    And their pockets are wide
    It's a small store after all

    It's a small store after all
    It's a small store after all
    It's a small store after all
    It's a small, small store
  • $9.99 and up? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dougman ( 908 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:52AM (#16053391)
    FTFA: "Because it also sells DVDs, Amazon has agreed to studio demands that digital wholesale prices not undercut those of DVDs. As a result, Amazon.com's digital download prices are expected to range from $9.99 to $19.99..."

    "Initially, Apple was pushing to sell all films for $9.99, just as it sells songs for a flat price of 99 and all TV shows for $1.99. But due to studio pressure, it will launch with two price points: $9.99 for library titles, $14.99 for new pics in the DVD window."

    Neither of these companies will get my business. Why the hell would I pay retail for a download when I can have it in a day or two on physical media with a case and an insert? $4.99, maybe - after all that would compete with "buying" a new release on DirecTV which I can save on my Tivo. This one I really don't get.

    I still don't purchase (complete) CD's online - I'll take the packaging. Individual songs make sense since I might only care for a couple tracks on a disc. I've never had the desire to download specific chapters of a DVD. Music downloads are a whole different thing than video. Oh well, I hope the market takes care of this.
  • by SlashdotOgre ( 739181 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:57AM (#16053432) Journal
    Although I wouldn't consider a DRM'ed movie on its own, I'd consider a packaged deal where I get the DVD in the mail, but in the mean time can download the DRM protected movie immediately (and obviously I'd be willing to pay slightly more than the typical DVD). This would benefit Amazon because I'd be willing to pay more to be able to view the movie sooner. This will benefit the studios because in addition to the higher price, I'm less likely to rip the DVD into a DRM free file since I already have a soft copy on my PC. This would benefit me because I'm an American and like instant gratification. The band Pearl Jam basically did this for live shows on their 2003 tour. You could buy MP3's of the show roughly within 24 hours, and they would mail you an audio CD (acutally most shows were two CD's, some three) of the show in a couple weeks. For fans this was great, and although I don't foresee the movie studio's allowing a non-DRM format for video, I'd still be a heck of a lot more motivated to buy a downloadable movie if I knew I'd be eventually receiving a full DVD copy.
    • by miyako ( 632510 )
      I hadn't nessesarily thought about that, but that's a really good idea. I know that I would also pay extra to be able to download a movie so I could watch it while the movie is en route.
      Of course, the rational side of my brain tells me that what will happen is I'll think "oh, I'd like to watch $movie" so I go to amazon, buy the movie, watch the downloaded movie, then a couple of days later when the dvd arrives I'm like "oh...well now I've watched it" and it'll get stuck on my self unopened.
    • If someone sold audio books bundled with searchable pdfs, they would have my business in a heartbeat. For a lot of subjects, audio books are much more convienient than paper books, as you listen to them while you are doing something else like driving or cooking. But they are inferior to books for use as a reference. E-books are even better than hardcopies for searching and reference purposes, and are easier to store (I don't like owning walls of books) but are less enjoyable to read cover to cover. If you w
      • The Pragmatic Programmers [pragmaticprogrammer.com] sell most of their books as either dead-tree, e-book, or a combo pack where you get 'em both (not to mention the cool beta-book thingy - you get the beta of the book as it's being worked on, then get the full book once it's done, including a dead-tree copy as well if that's what you wanted).
    • Amazon does this with some books now, through a program called Amazon Upgrade. You pay a few bucks extra for instant access to the entire book online. Here's an example: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0072255595/ fonerbooks-20/ref=nosim [amazon.com]
  • by Zanth_ ( 157695 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @11:59AM (#16053446)
    A typical movie, if compressed by half, will fit on a standard 4.5 GB DVD (unit cost $.10 without case). Immediately we see that the cost is greater than purchasing the real thing and the quality is much less, not only in terms of picture quality, but also in terms of packaging etc.

    So far, this is not much different from music right? True. However! Many ISP's cap the downloads to 100 GB's/month if not less. Few spots in the US and Canada don't have capped downloads, where the iTunes store will first be releasing the movies. This means, that for those that want to buy a good amount DVD's they will have to pay a premium once they surpass their download limit. My ISP charges $1/GB over my 100 GB limit..or I can opt to get throttled down to dial-up speeds. Convenient...

    Regardless, the cost of entry is simply not on par with downloading music wherein one does not have to wait hours for the download (usually) one has near immediate gratification. As well, with the plethora of DAP products, folks don't necessarily require (or rather desire) the jewel case, cover art, liner notes etc. Yet, with DVD's the vast majority WILL be ripping to a DVD and playing in their home unit watching on their TV, not on some tiny screen on a DAP.

    With prices in the $10-20 range, only the diehards will go for this, or those with massive uncapped pipes (like sysadmins at a corp or university). Drop the cost to $5 and people will be far more eager to wait for the downloads, take their chances with their ISP quirks because $5 for the new Pirate of the Carribean movie is going to be far cheaper than the 15-20 they'll pay at Best Buy for the first month of its release.
    • Actually (and yes, I've seen and heard all the stories about caps and warnings from ISPs, etc.), *most* US DSL and cable providers don't have caps of any type. They may contact/warn a customer if they deem them to be "abusive" (which are, comparatively, VERY isolated incidents), but there are definitely not caps in the vast majority of markets, and definitely not any official caps (unless an agreement says so specifically). To reiterate, yes, we've all seen the stories entitled "'Unlimited serivce' not real
    • by acomj ( 20611 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @01:12PM (#16053984) Homepage
      I don't get why people never get this. To manufacture a cd costs very little. I can make cds of me singing and sell them. But my singing is really really bad (It hurts my own ears).

      Content is more than the cost of the media. If I make a movie that costs 10 million dollars, and sell it on DVD. How many movies do I have to sell before I make my first dollar. (say I make 10 dollars per dvd sold).

      10,000,000$ /10$ = 1 million copies. Thats a lot of DVDs.

      Everyone who does your thinking thinks of "blockbusters", movies that are so popular the cost per dvd sold is a very very small percentage of the cost of the disk. For less popular movies a good chunk of the cost of the DVD has already been spent on production.

      Your right about the elasticity of demand though, cheaper means more buyers.
    • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
      How much do you pay for your internet connection?
      • by jZnat ( 793348 ) *
        I ask this because of some math:

        An OC-12 (622 Mbps) dedicated (99.99% uptime, downtime = reimbursed) costs about $15000 a month (many would say "holy shit", but that's a good deal). Doing some Google calculator math, that equates to about 13.31 GB/$. Charging over 10 times that price sounds pretty bad.

        Then again, using dedicated T1 (1.5 Mbps) math, that equates to about 1.20 GB/$, but only dial-up ISPs use(d) those (and businesses with low bandwidth and high uptime needs).
        • Yeah, the thing is, it's not just bandwidth. It's server hardware, support staff, an hr department, the CEO tax, you name it, it's all part of an outrageous overhead package. Plus there are power bills, maybe some colo fees, etc. So yeah, you uh, kinda forgot to factor some things in.
    • by skiflyer ( 716312 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @02:22PM (#16054541)
      So far, this is not much different from music right? True.

      I disagree... this is alot different than music. One of the big gripes for years before iTunes showed up was "Bands just don't release good albums anymore, I just want tracks 3 and 9 from that album... why should I spend $11.99 for the whole CD?", and iTunes said fine, $1.98 and you can have tracks 3 & 9.

      There's no analog to that for movies, and in my opinion that combined with the portability were the killer features that pushed iTunes to success.

      Movies, you're going to be adding portability (which no one really seems to be asking for) and convenience of not leaving your chair, and a short download wait... nice features certainly, but I have my doubts that they'll be big enough motives to make this more than a tiny add-on to iTunes/Amazon's bottom lines.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dangitman ( 862676 )
        I just want tracks 3 and 9 from that album... why should I spend $11.99 for the whole CD?", and iTunes said fine, $1.98 and you can have tracks 3 & 9. There's no analog to that for movies,

        How about when you just want to watch all the boobie shots in a movie, or all the explosions or karate kicks for the action film fans?

    • A typical movie, if compressed by half, will fit on a standard 4.5 GB DVD (unit cost $.10 without case).

      If compressed with h.264 instead of MPEG-2, at similar bitrates to what iTunes currently uses for TV shows: a typical movie takes up about 400MB.
      • If compressed with h.264 instead of MPEG-2, at similar bitrates to what iTunes currently uses for TV shows: a typical movie takes up about 400MB.

        At 320x240 resolution and ~88 kbps bitrate, compared to 720x480 with 8 Mbps bitrate for DVDs.

        If you wanted the same quality with h.264, you'd still need about half the bitrate of DVDs and the same resolution. About what it takes to fill up a DVD-5 (4.5 GB)
    • For those that want to buy a good amount DVDs they will have to pay a premium once they surpass their download limit. My ISP charges $1/GB over my 100 GB limit

      Even if these stores will go for the rather arbitrary upper limit of 4.5GB per film, you'd still need to buy 22 films in a one month period to reach that 100GB limit. If you have that kind of money to spend, you probably won't even notice your ISP's extra charge.

  • by Carrot007 ( 37198 ) <Carrot007@thewi[ ... k ['bbl' in gap]> on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @12:00PM (#16053452) Homepage
    Forget the lot of them, they are all useless.

    Why should I pay as much or more than a DVD for a download copy that it riddled with DRM and much lower in quality?

    For any download I expect them playable on anything I might use. At the moment I have 3 machines I regularly use. A Windows XP Box, a Mac Mini and a Kubuntu box. I also expect to be able to stream whatever it is from my Kubuntu box as I use that as a file server. Also playing on my pda and laptop and hey even on my real dvd player are also pretty important things.

    This stinks of the current trend of charginf ridiculour prices for something just because it is downloadable.

    Hey companies downloadable saves you loads of money pass this on to me instead of expecting me to quadruple your profit on things.

    I'll stick to DVD thanks, at least the problems with that have been overcome.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @12:01PM (#16053466)
    There is absolutely no way that I would pay as much for a digital download of a movie as I would for a DVD. Common sense tells you that the pricing is wrong as there are no box or physical media costs. Nor is there the shipping costs to get the finished product to retailers. Then there is the format. Do I really want to pay full price to watch a movie on a screen the size of an ipod with video. No way! This thing is primed for failure. Consumers can be stupid at times, but they're not this stupid.
    • > Consumers can be stupid at times, but they're not this stupid.

      Wanna bet? Time and time again people have proved they are more stupid than you think.

      You are in denial unfortunatly. Admitting how stupid people can be scares most people so you can be forgiven.
  • This could be very very bad. If this method of delivery becomes the norm, perhaps diminishing hard copy mediums to the niche market, movie studios might play "Never Ending Editor" and continue to edit the films as they see fit to the detriment of us, the fans. If Lucas has his way, Greedo would shoot first, not simulataneously and certainly not getting burned without a hint of one off. No, Han would shoot second, and not be considered a murdering space pirate. But I like my space priates to be a murderi
  • by ChrisA90278 ( 905188 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @12:46PM (#16053780)
    The best option for me is the local public library. They offer DVDs for free. Hard to beat free. I can reserve them on-line then walk in and the DVD is tagged with my name on it and setting on a self up by the checkout counter.
  • by Warlock7 ( 531656 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @02:15PM (#16054495)
    LionsGate announced in August that they'd be part of the new movie store. [slashfilm.com] So, why does Variety appear to be reporting otherwise?
  • Not news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <sd_resp2&earthshod,co,uk> on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @03:24PM (#16054996)
    This is hardly news. When you're testing something, you have to use whatever's to hand. There are already existing associations between Dinsey, Pixar and Apple, so it was most probably a formality to get the relevant permission to use Disney material for the testing phase. Apple wouldn't dare risk embarrassment by offering movies for download without the blessing of the copyright holders.

    By the time the movie store is up and running for real, I would expect at least some of the major studios to be wanting to get on board. The Apple brand is just too strong to ignore.
  • Special Features (Score:2, Informative)

    by gatesvp ( 957062 )

    I'm on the band-wagon with the "Special Features required". I won't pay for a downloaded movie w/o the Special Features. But I don't think that we are without hope here.

    DivX 6, released a full year ago, has the features required to effectively make a video file into a DVD (subtitles, menus, etc.). Apple has the benefit of closed formats, so what's to stop them from providing an "enhanced video" file that implements the DVD features. I'd like to believe that they'd have the foresight to handle the Spec

  • by garote ( 682822 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @06:20PM (#16056135) Homepage

    While we're comparing price points here, let's not forget that a visit to the local movie theatre costs nine bucks. Hordes of people are willing to pay that much to see a film once, on a big screen with their peers. No ownership rights at all; and afterwards they will probably never see the movie again. Plus they have to leave the house, and will probably add a four dollar soda to the bill.

    Clearly there is some flexibility in prices, mostly dependent on the interest level that a potential purchaser has. The less interested they are in seeing a movie, the more affordable and convenient you have to make it before they will open their wallets.

    The only reason big business is pursuing internet-based distribution AT ALL is because they perceive a demand for the additional measure of convenience that the model could POTENTIALLY deliver, and they expect to derive an acceptable profit from constructing that model.

    So the big question is: Is internet-based distribution a new niche of consumers - a third category beyond theatre-goers and DVD renters - who will be convinced to watch a movie via the internet? Or are these people just a subset of that second, established category of DVD renters? In other words, do they need a lower price to bring them on board ... or do they just need the same price they're already used to paying for a movie on DVD?

    Personally, I think it's a subset of DVD renters. A small subset. People who own computers, and who watch movies primarily on their computers, yet are not particularly concerned with owning a physical copy of their data, and are just a bit too impatient to order a DVD in the mail. That's not a very big demographic, really. Maybe it covers a lot of college students who move too often for a NetFlix account, but at the same time, college students are rampant pirates, to whom most music and movies are contemptuously disposable.

  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2006 @10:28PM (#16057126)
    The big advantage of digital distribution is that the costs are so much lower for the studios than manufacturing disks and selling them. What this means is that something like the iTunes Media Store is the perfect place for the studios to sell all that content that is not cost effective to release on DVD.
    What will be interesting is to see if the policies of "limited run" (like what Disney does with their films) carries over to the digital world or if we finally see an end to those stupid practices.
  • by macshome ( 818789 ) on Thursday September 07, 2006 @10:25AM (#16059536) Homepage
    Remember that Disney isn't just Disney as they pretty much own what AOL doesn't.

    Starting out with Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Miramax Films, Hollywood Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, and Walt Disney Feature Animation wouldn't be half bad!

    They could have everything from Pulp Fiction, to Cars, to Snow White, to The Sixth Sense, to Starship Troopers and much more.

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