Timothy B. Smith
Timothy B. Smith Editor-in-Chief. Designer & Developer at Mealthy.

Renting iTunes Movies and the Value of Ownership by Khoi Vinh

Khoi Vinh:

…it occurs to me that Apple could go even further in emphasizing the value of ownership by helping their customers convert rentals to purchases. If you rent a movie on iTunes, Apple should offer to let you pay the difference between the rental price and the purchase price to actually own it. To keep this reasonable, this offer could be limited to the rental period, which Apple also increased to forty-eight hours back in September.

Khoi’s idea is great. Kelly and I used to buy DVD’s, so our analog1 collection is pretty big. Recently, we’ve been purchasing all our movies digital. Or if I buy a Blu-ray, I’ll buy the one with a digital code. All this to say, we don’t just like to watch movies, we buy them too.

On the weekends, we rent movies. I’m a lazy person, so renting on iTunes is the most convenient and comes without the headache of remembering to return them on time.2 We rent a lot of movies, and this added incentive I think would convert us to buy more.

The most recent example of this being The Boss Baby. We went to watch it in theaters, then rented it when we had some friends over. I could easily watch this movie more—to me a sure sign we should own it. As Khoi points out:

With analog media, there was no practical way of allowing a customer to get credit for a previous transaction involving a specific piece of media. Whether you saw a movie in theaters or rented it from Blockbuster it didn’t matter because when you decided you wanted to own it for yourself, you were back at square one

Much like the “complete the album” feature in the music section of iTunes, this could really get people to buy more movies. But let’s say you’re still not motivated enough to purchase at that point, there’s no way to see the movies you’ve rented. Sure you can look at your purchase history, but there’s no page that shows you the movies you’ve rented with the option to buy.

I love having more and more of my movie collection with iTunes, but I feel like some small changes would make the whole movie experience better.

  1. Can you call DVD’s analog? 

  2. Kelly and I always argue about which one is the better deal. Sure, Redbox is cheaper than renting on iTunes, but is it? If you don’t return the movie by the right time the rental comes out to the same or more.