APPLE CEO Steve Jobs announced iTunes movie rentals with support from all the major studios. DVD-quality rentals will cost $2.99 for library titles and $3.99 new releases. HD rentals will cost $3.99 for library titles and $4.99 for new releases. Users have 30 days to start watching a rental and 24 hours to finish once it has begun. Apple TV software was updated to allow purchasing movies and music directly from TV sets. Jobs also unveiled a new ultra-thin MacBook and a software update for the iPhone.
THE FCC announced that 214 bidders have been qualified for the upcoming spectrum auction. There is uncertainty surrounding the 10 megahertz of nationwide spectrum that must be shared with the public sector and is subject to other restrictions. Frontline Wireless had planned to bid on that offering but failed to come up with the $1.33 billion minimum bid. No other company has indicated a clear intention to bid on that spectrum. Major bidders, such as Google, are expected to bid on large regional licenses that can be combined to form a nationwide network. The FCC will keep all bidding details secret until the auction ends.
MICROSOFT is pursuing a new venue for video advertising: shopping carts. The company has been working with MediaCart Holdings to create web-connected shopping cart screens capable of scanning products, displaying web-based shopping lists and serving video ads via aQuantive. The system will serve contextual ads — such as displaying cereal ads in the cereal aisle. The MediaCart will go into testing at select ShopRite stores in the second half of 2008.
THE WGA has reached an interim deal with Media Rights Capital, the fourth production company to sign with the Guild. The deal specifies residuals for mobile and Internet distribution. In related news, the Grammy’s may face opposition from the WGA. It will deny any requests for writer waivers and may consider picketing the February 10th awards ceremony.
TOSHIBA has begun slashing prices of HD DVD players, allowing customers to buy the soon-to-be-obsolete players for $149.99. Only Paramount and Universal are still supporting the HD DVD format. So, if you have no intention of watching content from any other company in the world, you may want to pick one up.