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Apple moves closer to cloud based movie services

iCloud could add movies to media mix

Apple is apparently looking to seal a deal with major movie studios to allow users to stream films to Apple mobile devices via iTunes and iCloud.

A report in the Los Angeles Times says the service is due for launch later this year or in early 2012. With the launch of Apple's iCloud services, iTunes now stores music and TV purchases in iCloud and makes them available on your devices anywhere, any time, at no additional cost. The LA Times report claims that the deal between Apple and the Hollywood studios will add movies to the mix, allowing consumers to buy movies through iTunes and access them on any Apple device from the cloud.

A stumbling block, in the USA at least, has been the so-called 'HBO Window', an exclusivity clause that prohibits movies from being streamed while they are being screened on the American cable network HBO. However the LA Times report claims that a deal is close to being finalised.

At the same time, a consortium of movie studios (not including Disney) has also been working on UltraViolet, a new technology that will give access to an additional 'UltraViolet' copy of a movie or TV show in the cloud when the title is bought on DVD or Blu-Ray disc (or via the Web in 2012). Once a movie or TV show has been added to the users UltraViolet Library, it is assigned a digital proof of purchase that unlocks options to stream it over the internet, download it for offline viewing, or play it back on a disc.

Ultraviolet is not currently supported by the iTunes Store, though an analyst quoted in the LA Times report says studio executives would be happy to see Apple join the consortium, since it already accounts for 66% of online movie sales and rentals. The report claims that representatives for Apple said the company is considering allowing people who buy and store movies with Ultraviolet to watch them on Apple devices via apps.

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