News came out yesterday that Apple iTunes was going to branch out even further into the world of offering video, but there seemed to be an issue on price and today, in an article at CNN we learn that Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs is said to want one flat price of $9.99 per movie, whereas studio executives want a range of prices that mirrors videos and DVDs at retail stores that usually run from discount titles at a few dollars each up to $19.99 or more for new releases.
This is no real surprise since that is how much sites like Movielink, who began offering movie downloads earlier this year, are charging.
On top of this news Variety also posted an article yesterday saying that Netflix is developing a set top box that will connect to the Internet and will overnight download movies in your Netflix queue directly to your box.
Pricing on that one was not revealed.
These new technologies could be here as soon as 4th quarter 2006, and it is obvious downloading movies is the future, but I just have to wonder how well it is going to do. It also has me wondering how well the upcoming HD media are going to do as Blu-ray discs have finally hit store shelves.
My biggest sticking point is price. I don’t think it should cost consumers the price of a DVD to download a movie. If it is going to cost me $19.99 to download a movie why would I download it and not just buy it? At least a DVD is portable. My other issue is in quality. I am currently enjoying HD DVD and anxious to get started with Blu-ray so downloading a heavily compressed video from the Internet is not currently tops on my list of things to do. I also have to believe that for studios to get their downloadable movies to high-def quality is going to be a major task.
For example, to download a 2:22 trailer at Apple iTunes in 1080p High-def is a 178 MB download, that is 2.17 MB per second. This translates to a 13.7 GB file for a 1 hour and 45 minute movie. Yeah, computer hard drives are bigger now days, but if you think you are going to ever have a library of films by downloading movies those numbers should quickly discourage that idea, that is if you are thinking high-def.
Thinking back to the question in the headline I can only assume the cost of all that bandwidth is where studios and product providers are going to have trouble, which ultimately bleeds down to the consumer. Who knows what will happen, but for now I think I will stick with my discs.