At the Macworld expo today, Steve Jobs revealed several new features for your $400 iPhone, a $500 terabyte backup drive for OS X Leopard’s Time Machine, and, of course, the new $1,800-plus Macbook Air: the thinnest notebook in the world—so ridiculously thin, it practically floats. That’s the idea, anyway.
However, for those non-switchers (or are we all just pre-switchers?) who don’t have that many Benjamins to spare, the most accessible and category-changing reveal was iTunes’ new movie-rental feature. In February, iTunes will begin offering 1,000 major-studio movies for rent—instant viewing from the comfort of your home computer. Rentals will be available with a 30-second download (made possible by streaming technology) 30 days after DVD release. What makes these rentals more appealing than Netflix, Blockbuster, or other movie-delivery services is the ability to transfer the file from your Mac—or (gasp) PC!—to your iPod, iPhone, or video-playing PDA. This mean sthat if you need to leave halfway through the movie, you can take it with you. Naysayers will point to the paltry selection iTunes has launched today—1,000 movies ain’t exactly exhaustive, and a heck of a lot less than the 90,000 titles available through Netflix. However, the iTunes selection will certainly increase over time.
Apple’s move to the online movie market is no surprise given the cry to replace traditional—and in the case of DVDs, pretty poor—physical data storage with remotely retrievable storage (given a wifi signal, of course). Sure, iTunes could potentially render DVDs obsolete and may very well do to Netflix what Netflix almost did to Blockbuster (and which Blockbuster kind of did to the mom’n'pop video store). But that’s on the horizon. Until then, we ask Steve this: Just 1,000 movies? Srsly?