Saturday, September 12, 2009

Its about time: Apple brings bonus content to iTunes movies

If you were on the internet at all on Wednesday you probably were having load-time issues because everyone was F5ing a bunch of pages to get the latest from that day’s Apple event. There wasn’t the anticipated news that Beatles albums would be available on iTunes but there was lots of hoopla around new features for various versions of Apple’s iPod.

There was also the announcement that select movies within iTunes would be bundled with bonus content (Video Business 9/9/09) akin to what’s available on DVD under the iTunes Extra banner.

Bonus content will include what you’d expect from DVDs, meaning documentaries and trailers. The movies with Extra material will be priced the same as they otherwise would have, a sign that distribution costs are falling since there’s no need to bump up the price to send more information to the consumer.

This is the kind of thing Scott Kirsner was asking about last month and it’s going to be interesting to see what the consumer adoption of digital extras actually winds up being. Are they a holdover of the DVD age or is there a place for them in digital distribution models? I’m not sure there’s an answer about that yet but I’m sure one will emerge.

Personally I’d be interested to see how these things evolve. I have a hunch that that same sort of pre-packaged featurettes aren’t going to be as popular when they’re *meant* to be watched on a computer screen so will probably have to begin incorporating more interactive features, something that’s been part of the promise of next-gen DVD formats like Blu-ray. See recent stories about up-to-date IMDb information on the cast and crew being available (Video Business 9/10/09) to buyers of X-Men Origins: Wolverine as an example of what I’m talking about. When people watch something online I think there’s the implied promise it will be interactive to some extent and efforts like Apple’s will eventually have to cater to that.

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