Blu-ray took another today hit as Apple announced that it will be offering HD movies for sale (iTunes link), rather than just for rent. That means consumers can download HD quality movies directly into their iTunes library, for use on their computers or Apple TV, or TV-connected Mac mini, if you happen to be me. This probably explains why Blu-ray support hasn’t been forthcoming in recent hardware updates coming out of Cupertino.
Don’t get too excited, though; you don’t get much of a price break for giving up physical media. HD movies on iTunes cost $19.99, which, barring new releases, isn’t that much of a discount from Blu-ray prices. And the file sizes are likely enormous, so plan on either upgrading your internal or moving that iTunes library to an external drive in order to accommodate them.
Launch titles for the service include “Punisher: War Zone,” “Bangkok Dangerous,” and some movies that are actually worth buying, like “Transporter 3.” A number of pre-orders are also available, including the wildly popular teen vampire love story, “Twilight,” and the latest Bond installment, “Quantum of Solace.” The movie files will play no problem on your Apple mobile devices, too, although in standard definition.
I should point out that HD movie purchases are not yet available in the Canadian or UK stores (the only two international stores that I checked so far), and Apple hasn’t released details as to when they might be made available. Currently in the Canadian iTunes store, you can only buy HD TV shows using Apple TV, though the UK store has them available for computer and Apple TV users. I really hope they don’t plan on running the same scheme for HD movies here in Canada as they do for TV shows, because I refuse to be bullied into buying an Apple TV when we don’t have access to most major American network content.