Apple may have launched its new movie download service through the iTunes Store with just four studios on board. But at least one Hollywood executive isn't fazed by the lack of participation throughout the movie industry.
Of course, that executive, Bob Iger, happens to be the CEO of Disney, the company that owns the four studios who've made more than 75 movies available at iTunes.
"We were the first in television, and now we're the first in movies." the Disney chief told Macworld, Digit's sister magazine, referring to last year's launch of downloadable TV programming via iTunes. When Apple unveiled that feature, Disney provided the only five shows available at the iTunes Store. A little less than a year later, iTunes now features 220 programs from 40 different networks.
iTunes kicked off its first day in the movie business with 75 movies from Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar, Touchstone Pictures, and Miramax Films. Meeting with reporters after the event, Iger noted that other film studios were watching to see how Apple's service went over with consumers.
"The sense I get is that they industry is well aware of digital media and everyone is looking for an opportunity, but at varying speeds," Iger said.
It's no secret that negotiations between Apple and the major film studios have been strained, as the two sides discuss pricing and release dates for digital downloads.
New releases will appear at iTunes the same day DVD versions of the movies hit retail shelves. Apple will sell these new releases for $12.99 as pre-orders and during the first week of availability; afterwards, they'll sell for $14.99. In addition to new releases, the iTunes Store also offers a selection of older movies as part of its Library offerings--these are available for $9.99.
"We are perfectly comfortable with the pricing strategy," Iger said.
After purchasing Pixar earlier this year--a move that made Apple CEO Steve Jobs the largest individual shareholder at the entertainment company--Disney was expected to support Apple's foray into the movie download business. However, analysts don't think it will be long before other studios come on board.
"It was a no-brainer to get Disney, but you have to start somewhere," said Michael Gartenberg, JupiterResearch vice president and research director. "Selling movies on iTunes is simply to big an opportunity for the studios to miss."
Disney's Iger agrees with that assessment. "We are the first, but we will be one of many very soon," he said.