How Viable are Movie Download Services?

The Internet—and, heck, even mainstream media—have been awash with rumors and speculation that iPod maker Apple Computer and Internet retailing giant are on the verge of unveiling online movie services. Apple has called a special press event for September 12; is literally expected to raise the curtain any second now. Tongues are waggin,’ cell phones are ringin’, and pundits are waxin’ philosophical.

Into this fray, Ireland’s Research and Markets dropped a two-part market analysis report On the Viability of an iTunes Movie Service. The first part, "Consumer & Strategic Perspectives," examines whether Apple is going to get into the online movie business (duh), how the company is likely to structure its business model, and evaluates the company’s chance for success. Apple so far as easily dominated its competition in the portable music player marketplace by tightly tying services to hardware: can Apple follow the same path in a digital movie marketplace, or will it follow a different path? Research and Markets surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. households regarding their receptivity to two possible iTunes scenarios (at several pricing points), including downloading video to PCs (or, natch, Macs) for viewing or transfer to video-capable iPod devices, and the possibility of a dedicated iTunes set-top box or other media appliance.

The second part of the report, "iTunes to the TV" takes on a more interesting topic, examining why services like Movielink and CinemaNow haven’t achieved the "critical mass" of users to jump-start an downloadable movie market, and why Apple’s expected entry into the business will be viewed by many as a turning point. (By the way, Movielink just announced its "Indie Spotlight" will feature a wide selection of significant independent films throughout the month, and that it’s teaming up with the American Film Institute on a sweepstakes giving away a round trip for two to Hollywood to attend a spate of screenings and movie events. We’d point you to information, but Movielink’s site snubs us outright…which, really, doesn’t make us wonder why they’ve had trouble getting market traction.)

So—if you simply must have more possible data on which to speculate, Research & Markets will happy to sell you everything they think about the market for online movies. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you (or anyone else) from speculating anyway.

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