Don’t blame Apple for the iCloud’s inability to stream and re-download iTunes movies. The issue here is a Hollywood system full of complications and competing interests.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s in talks with Hollywood studios for the rights to include movies in iCloud. At present, you can use iCloud to re-download TV shows, books and music onto any iOS device, but movies aren’t part of the package.
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So what’s the holdup? Two possibilities:
First, there’s something called an “HBO Window,” which deems that movies may not be sold or distributed while they’re airing on HBO. As Apple Insider points out, the HBO Window was a sticking point earlier this year, before iCloud launched. At the time, however, HBO parent company Time Warner seemed keen on relaxing the window to allow online storage of purchased films, but it’s unclear whether that ever happened.
The other issue is Ultraviolet, Hollywood’s own initiative to let people store their purchased movies in the cloud. Movie studios, understandably, want a streaming and re-downloading service that works on any device, not just Apple hardware. But Apple’s not participating, so the movies you buy on iTunes won’t be added to Ultraviolet’s locker. That, I imagine, is causing some friction between Apple and movie studios.
Meanwhile, downloadable movie ownership continues to be a cumbersome experience. When purchased through iTunes, you still have to deal with shuttling files between your PC and iOS devices. When purchased elsewhere, you’ve got to do some digging to determine which devices will support your file.
Cloud storage is the answer. It’s extra convenience for users and built-in DRM for studios—a win-win. Hopefully Apple and Hollywood will get their acts together soon.
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Read more about the life and legacy of Steve Jobs in the tribute book from TIME—Steve Jobs: The Genius Who Changed Our World