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Apple, Fox to offer iPod movie rentals
Apple Inc. is partnering with entertainment giant 20th Century Fox to offer movie rentals through its popular iTunes program, according to a news report.
Through the proposed online video-on-demand service, consumers will have the chance to download time-limited copies of Fox DVD releases, according to a source familiar with the deal cited in the Financial Times Thursday.
The deal is expected to be announced at the Macworld show in San Francisco on Jan. 14.
The news follows a similar move by Microsoft Corp. in 2006 in partnership with Xbox 360. Together, they launched a digital video download service that allows Xbox 360 owners to buy television shows and rent movies.
The service, which was made available to Canadians just this month, lets people with broadband internet connections purchase standard and high-definition content through the Marketplace store on its dedicated Xbox Live network.
However, analysts say the sheer strength of iTunes’ popularity will make the partnership between Apple and Fox highly lucrative for the two companies, including a boost in sales of video iPods.
“Fox and potentially other studios are coming around to the idea that there is nobody out there to challenge iTunes,” Jonathan Weitz, a principal with IBB consulting in the United States, told the Times.
“This deal is a sign that media mobility is coming to the mainstream.”
Apple shares hit the $200 mark for the first time Wednesday ó largely on the strength of the iPod brand. The company unveiled a new line of personal media devices this year, updating its flash-based Nano model to enable video playback as well as introducing the iPod Touch.
The touch-screen unit includes Wi-Fi wireless capability that allows users to connect to the internet, as well as Apple’s online music store iTunes and purchase songs.
According to the Times, new Fox DVD releases will include Apple’s FairPlay digital rights management system, allowing the films to be legally copied from the disc onto a computer or iPod.
Limited Disney, Paramount and other films are already for sale ó although not for rent ó through the iTunes platform.
Apple was also said to have been in negotiations with Sony, Paramount and Warner Brothers about similar deals to make their content available through the iTunes store.