Saul Hansell blogs about Apple's new scheme to include iTunes-compatible digital movies with DVDs for an additional few bucks:
The long standoff between Apple and Hollywood over movie downloads may be heading for a resolution. As of right now, Disney, of which Steve Jobs is a director and large shareholder, sells movies through the iTunes Store, and the other major studios don’t. The issue has been that the studios want to charge more money for downloads than Mr. Jobs thinks they are worth. The studios also worry about offending Wal-Mart and Target, which are by far their largest distributors.
At least one studio, News Corporation’s Twentieth Century Fox, is working on a deal to start selling its new releases and back titles through iTunes starting early next year. He cites two reasons for the change: Apple has relented and has agreed to a higher wholesale price for movies. Mr. Greenfield estimates that the wholesale price for a digital movie will be about $15, compared to about $18 for a DVD.
Boo! Hiss! Movies on iTunes are already too expensive, given that you get a sub-DVD quality (not to mention far below HD quality) version of the film with no closed captioning or other language support and no extra features. Digital movies should never cost more than $9.99 when new and $4.99 when a year or more old.
The studios are hoping to create “premium” versions of DVDs that include a copy of the movie that can easily be put on an iPod (and presumably a laptop with iTunes or an Apple TV). Fox has tried this already, with a version of “Die Hard 4″ that includes a digital copy. Mr. Greenfield writes that this version costs $3 or $4 more than an ordinary DVD.
Actually, this I'm OK with this. But I'd like to see more than one digital version on these DVDs. There should also be versions that work with WMP/Windows Media DRM.
Basically all this says to me is that the movie industry is making the same mistakes as the music industry: They're clinging to an old form of distribution and price points while the world is moving in a different direction. Evolve or die, clowns.