I guess it was at MacWord 2008 that Steve Jobs announced that Apple would start renting movies through iTunes. Well, a few nights ago, Claudia and I rented our first film through the iTunes store. We rented Michael Clayton. It was a decent film, but not one we would necessarily want in our personal library. So, it was a perfect occasion for renting. However, our local video stores are a bit slow to acquire new releases. So, iTunes came to our rescue and overall, it was a good renting and viewing experience. We live halfway around the world, but the download was still only about two and a half hours–1.5 GB. iTunes let’s you start watching while it’s still downloading. So, after about two-thirds was downloaded, we started watching and the download finished before the movie did, so our viewing was not interrupted. We’ve done the same with LOST which we purchase through the iTunes store as well so we’re used to this routine. We aren’t used to broadband performance in the States, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some people stateside are able to purchase and start viewing immediately or nearly immediately. But I would expect that just about anyone could purchase a movie rental before dinner and by the time the kid’s are tucked in, enough or all of the movie would be downloaded and mom and dad could settle in for a little home theater. Anyhow, Apple gets my thumbs up for putting together an on-demand video paradigm that just works.
Another service to keep your eye on is hulu.com. These guys are offering commercial TV for free on-demand. There are commercials, but you’ll get fewer commercial-minutes than broadcast television. Unfortunately, these guys aren’t allowing viewing from overseas, but we’ll see if I can’t figure out a way around that!
I said on-demand video was the way of the future and I’m sure there is more to come.