Lately I've been buying TV shows off iTunes. Dexter, The Wire... cool stuff, almost (but not quite) enough to make me want a TiVo or whatever the TV-watchers use these days.
Then I tried to rent a movie, just for kicks. I knew Apple had this idea that a rental is only for one day, which is straight out of 1985, but I wanted to give it a shot. Because even if the selection is clearly not aimed at people like me, the price point is: I pay $3 for a movie six blocks away, so $2.99 is a strong temptation to not take the walk, especially at night.
So I downloaded The Passenger, and watched about a third of it before falling asleep. Now, about an hour past the 24-hour mark (I was warned!) I'm lost in a confusion-profusion of shitty app development worthy of Vista Premium Super Edition.
When I enter iTunes where the movie was playing, I see it's expired. Bummer, bad business model, strong incentive to visit the Pirate Bay, but hey -- I was warned, and I ponied up my $2.99 anyway. But wait, there's more!
When I try to play the movie anyway, it sorta-kinda plays. The small preview window shows a still of what I think is the spot I left off, and the large window shows me a field of grey... but gives me the full audio. Awesome. I can spoil the plot without straining my eyes! But wait, it gets even better!
If I try to pause the movie, I'm told that stopping it is going to erase it, but that I can resume it if I like. And resuming it gives me the grey screen with the audio. Thrilling.
I finally gave up. And next time around, I'll either hit the video store or, if it's too late, maybe the Bay, or maybe -- just maybe -- pay the $10 to "buy" the movie for a single use (iTunes DRM makes it impractical to do much more, at least in my world).
It's a shame, because Apple is pretty close on this one, they just seem to have made their plans without consulting anyone who actually rents movies. Maybe they only talked to Netflix and Disney, and split what they thought was the difference.
Hey Steve, it's simple: let me watch the movie once through, no matter how long it takes, and no matter how many times I stop, start, rewind (within reason) and even quit iTunes. Let me watch it as many times as I want within 3 days of finishing the first time. Bingo, with that you will have my corner videotheque beat: they only do 3 days from the rental, and they close at 11. Of course, they have a much better selection than iTunes, but I think that's a different issue.
Honestly, it baffles me that they screwed this one up so bad. But then they completely blew the "Mobile Me" launch and I still have to wait six hours to buy an iPhone, so it does rather look like Steve's perfectionist grip is not so tight these days. Sad.
Labels: itunes, rental, shitshow