In Valid Logic

Endlessly expanding technology

The problem with online movie rentals

With Apple's announcement today of its iTunes Movie Rentals, I was rather quickly disappointed that it will suffer from the same thing that Xbox Live's movie rentals have: 24 hour viewing time.

With Xbox Live, when you download the movie, you can watch it anytime within 14 days. However, once you click play and start watching it, you must finish it within 24 hours. With iTunes, they've changed it a little where you can watch it within 30 days, however you still must watch it within 24 hours once you start playing it.

I understand the 14 day / 30 day portion... well, at least with iTunes. You might rent a movie and put it on your iPod or something to watch on a trip. That would be useful (assuming you can start the movie after downloading without an internet connection, who knows). With the Xbox, you can't really transfer it anywhere, so mute point.

Really, what is the logic with this 24 hour business? This is nothing new, since Microsoft was doing it before Apple, just Apple is doing it more to the masses. 24 hours is simply not enough. What if you normally only get to sit down and watch TV/movies at 8pm and for some reason you get interrupted (phone call, kids, falling asleep, whatever), so you don't get to finish the movie. Well, the next night you are basically toast since if you can't get back to finish it before 8pm (your normal time), you're screwed.

The 24-hour limitation completely negates the on-demand convenience. You now have to finish the movie that night. So don't let your kids wake up. Don't you dare fall asleep.

Some are calling for a 27 hour rental, others 48-72 hours. I think 48-72 would be nice, though likely don't need that much. Being able to resume watching the movie at the same time the following night would be enough. 27 hours would be enough. Ideally, I'd vote for 36 hours. It gives you extra flexibility as you could basically start watching it anytime the first night and finish it anytime the following night.

Will change come? Hopefully. Until then, the idea sounds cool, though is definitely a major turn off. Maybe Apple is counting on you not finishing it and having to re-rent it, just like Blockbuster used to do with their "due by noon" crap.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

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