Apple may be putting the finishing touches on a new streaming video service that would allow iTunes users to access purchased video content without the need to download and store it on a local machine, according to a report Wednesday at AppleInsider.
iTunes Replay would let users stream content such as movies and TV shows directly from Apple-owned servers in a manner similar to Amazon’s Video on Demand (formerly known as UnBox) and the Instant Watch service from Netflix, and may also improve the experience of the company’s Apple TV set top box, allowing users to stream purchased media directly from Apple’s servers without syncing or copying files between Apple TV and a computer running iTunes.
The report is unclear whether Apple intends to move toward a “streaming only” distribution model for the typically large files created by video content, or if iTunes Replay would merely represent an option for consumers with fewer concerns about retaining physical control of their purchased media content (and less storage in which to keep it).
To the extent that media distributors such as Apple, Amazon and Netflix embrace the streaming distribution model, consumers may find relief from the need to maintain ever greater storage capacity for growing media libraries. Though the trade-off – and guaranteed consumer dissatisfaction – will arise over bandwidth limitations that already make even a YouTube-watching experience sub-optimal at peak demand times in some places in the US.