Sunday, June 5, 2011

Apple still trying to land films, TV shows for iCloud

Feature films could be part of Apple's iCloud launch next week.

In the past several weeks, Apple executives have stepped up their attempts to convince some of the major Hollywood film studios to issue licenses that would enable Apple to store its customers' movies on the company's servers, two sources close to the negotiations told CNET. Apple began discussing a cloud service with the studios over a year ago.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Apple announced today that next Monday, the start of the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, it will unveil the iCloud, a long-anticipated service that will enable users store and access their digital media from Apple's servers via Web-connected devices. The cloud is the term used to describe when consumers rely on third parties instead of their own PCs for computing tasks and this is where digital entertainment is supposedly headed. CNET reported that Apple has licensing deals with three of the top four record labels and is closing in on reaching an agreement with the fourth, as well as the large music publishers.

Apple is expected to help take cloud services out of the world of high-tech enthusiasts, the so-called early adopters, and introduce them to the mainstream.

The talks between Apple and the studios are ongoing but Apple has run into several problems, including one that could prevent it from offering flicks from at least three of the big film studios, the sources said.

Exclusive window
The so-called HBO window or HBO blackout, as it is known in the film industry, refers to an exclusive distribution relationship that the cable network has with three of the top six film studios: Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and NBC Universal.

When a movie from one of the participating studios is aired on HBO, the cable network's electronic-distribution rights require other outlets to halt sales or distribution of the title. Conceivably, this would prevent cloud services from streaming movies to customers during the blackout period.

Telling consumers that they won't have access to movies they store in the cloud for certain periods will make such features a tough sell.

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