‘iTunes Replay’ and Apple Netflix Rival Rumored

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A pair of iTunes-related rumors hint at big plans ahead for Apple’s TV and movie service.

First up is “iTunes Replay,” which according to AppAdvice‘s unnamed sources will let users stream movies directly from Apple’s servers and easily download them to multiple Apple devices. This may depend on agreements with movie studios, as AppAdvice says only movies and shows marked by a little green arrow will be available for re-download, and some content will reportedly be limited to five downloads per user.

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Apple already plans to offer a similar service for music with iTunes in the Cloud, which can automatically sync purchased music to multiple devices. iTunes Replay seems like a natural extension of that service, so perhaps Apple just needs time to work out the terms with movie studios.

Furthermore, Apple recently updated its Apple TV set-top box to let users stream purchased TV shows (not just rentals), and allowed users to re-download purchased TV shows to their iTunes desktop software. iTunes replay would extend these capabilities to movies and to all iOS devices, so AppAdvice‘s rumor seems plausible.

I’m more skeptical of a rumor from Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, who says Apple has secretly made deals with all the major movie studios and TV networks for a Netflix-style subscription streaming service.

It sounds nice, but rumors of a subscription-based iTunes have been floating around for years. Misek himself has been spreading this rumor since at least April, and his track record for timely Apple predictions isn’t flawless. In January 2010, he said there’s a “good chance” Apple would announce the Verizon iPhone on the same day that it introduced the first iPad. (He was only off by one year!) I think there’s something to the idea of Apple rivaling Netflix — where there’s smoke with these rumors, there’s usually fire — but timing’s always been the tricky part. Inevitably, someone will get it right, but whether this particular prediction is on the mark is debatable.

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