Apple’s announcement that they will begin renting films via iTunes seems to me like a small step “ahead” for a struggling service, rather than anything indicative of what true success will be like in the merging area of computers/televisions.
Mike Masnick from Techdirt put it best:
Rentals make sense for physical goods, when you are returning the good at the end so it can be rented out again, but they’re an artificial construct in a world of digital goods.
Why should you have to “return” a digital download? It doesn’t make any sense. Plus, the extra hassle and nuisance of dealing the the Digital Restrictoins Management (DRM) surrounding these video formats is not worth it for the few dollars you might save compared to the price of owning a film. Mike Masnick focuses on the economic impact of other companies, such as Netflix (now offering unlimited downloads – though still encumbered by DRM), competing against Apple TV but not imposing unnecessary and artificial restrictions. If competitors don’t offer something more compelling, countless people still turn to unauthorized downloads which are completely DRM-free. Even if this “rental” model succeeds for Apple TV, it won’t last long and it won’t win out.
Also, renting a video from the old fashioned movie store down the street will avoid (some of) the DRM headaches caused by trying to find a device that will play the video. Good luck with Apple TV. I looked into it briefly over the summer when I was putting together my own home PVR, but the model is entirely locked down. (I opted to use MythTV instead, which has been running just fine on old computers that were previously collecting dust.)
No thanks, Apple. That kind of thinking is defective by design.