Big Pond vs. iTunes

In the past day or two, there have been a couple of announcements that could shape the way you get your music & video in the future.

In the past day or two, there have been a couple of announcements that could shape the way you get your music & video in the future.

The first of these announcements and probably one of the most important ones for Australia is the news that Telstra’s BigPond has signed a deal with major record companies like Sony BMG, Universal, Warner Music, and EMI to sell DRM-free mp3’s on its BigPond online store.

You might have bought music from Apple’s iTunes music service previously and if you’ve ever tried to move the files to a non-iPod device, you’ve probably been smacked in the face with Apple’s copy protection policy. Used as a method against piracy, Apple weren’t the only ones to attempt to curb piracy by way of Digital Rights Management with Nokia’s online music store launching earlier this year with a similar type of DRM that limited users from using it on various mp3 players. In an interesting light, it was strange to see that while Apple’s iTunes files couldn’t be played on almost everything that didn’t have an Apple logo, Nokia’s music files couldn’t be played on any portable media player WITH an Apple logo.

That’s one of the reasons why this BigPond deal is so important: much like the Amazon DRM-free mp3 service that Americans get to have, now Apple’s iTunes service in Australia has a real competitor that’s willing to go to bat with downloadable tracks that’ll play in anything from your home computer to your iPod to car radio to… well… anything.

Meanwhile, Apple’s iTunes is launching with something different of its own.

Changing the face of how you rent movies, Apple have announced that Australians will now get the opportunity to buy movies for rent or purchase over the iTunes Store for Apple TV or iTunes itself.

We just went and had a look at some of the things available to you and the selection is already looking good with older titles such as “Robocop,” “Finding Nemo”, “Con Air” as well as newer titles like “Jumper”, “National Treasure 2” and “Cloverfield” already sitting in the store waiting for you to download them.

People interested in the service will actually get two choices: rent or buy.

Rentals will up to 6 bucks and come with a 30 day rent system that gives you 30 days to start watching the title with another 48 hours from that point to finish the movie and / or watch it more times.

Buying the movie will result in you owning it forever in its digital form and will cost you a fair price more.

Looking at “National Treasure 2” for instance, a title that is fairly new and boasts High Definition on Apple TV, will set you back $5.99 for a rental and $24.99 for the entire thing. Overall, you’ll need 1.39GB to download it.

While there’s no question that the ability to download movies is now a viable option in the face of video rental places, you have to ask whether it’ll succeed.

Some might argue that the fuss of not having to return a movie or deal with scratches might work for the rental price, what about the higher prices for buying the movies? DVD prices have been dropping like flies and with some of the titles on iTunes costing more than what you could get them for on hard copy at your local DVD retailer, the question remains is this part of Apple’s service all that worth it yet.

We’ll be taking an Apple TV for a run-through soon and tell you what we think.

Written by Leigh D. Stark