iTunes Movie Rentals and device syncing

So, before I left San Francisco, I rented Pirates of the Caribbean 3 to watch on the flight and I synced it to my iPhone this morning. Actually, I started the download process yesterday afternoon, because the bandwidth in my hotel was so poor, but I digress. Anyway, the rental process was very easy and moving the file over was just as I expected. It’s a 1.8 GB file, so moving it over via USB takes a few minutes.

What seems to happen though, is the file is moved from iTunes to the device, rather than just copying it over. When I got home and wanted to watch the end of the movie on my computer (rats…because Apple TV hasn’t been updated yet to support rentals…), I saw that my iPhone sync was copying the 1.8 GB file from the iPhone back to iTunes.

Presumably, in the future, when you want to finish watching it on an Apple TV or other device, you’d have to copy it over yet one more time. I don’t understand why Apple doesn’t just keep the master rental file in iTunes for the full rental time, and copy it out to devices (rather than move), and retrieve the state (watched/complete, or semi-watched) and timestamp of where the viewer left off.

Okay…reading back the above is confusing myself.

Of course, there are really only two likely normal use cases of iTunes Rentals. 1) You rent the movie in iTunes and watch it on your computer completely or sync it to a device and watch it completely. 2) You rent it on your Apple TV and watch it completely there.

Still the use case I’m describing (that just happened to me) can’t be too uncommon: You rent a movie in iTunes and sync to a iPhone/iPod and partially watch it. You get home and want to finish watching it on your Apple TV.

So, the way iTunes handles rentals transfers, I will have moved my ~2 GB file 4 times. Once when you download it, another when you sync it, again when you re-sync it back to iTunes and finally synced out to your Apple TV.


Am I over thinking this? Or does it seem that just leaving it in iTunes all the time to begin with fixes a little bit of the wait?

2 thoughts on “iTunes Movie Rentals and device syncing

  1. I’m just annoyed that apparently movie rental isn’t compatible with any of the iPods other than the newest generation. I think Apple is just trying to force me into getting an iPhone. 🙂

  2. I think the rationale for this is that allowing you to have 2 copies is akin to having to rentals for the price of one, when you relate it to renting a DVD from Blockbuster and only have one DVD.

    However, Apple has had no problem deviating from the standard rental methods when you consider situations like the 30 day/24 hour rule. I don’t see why they couldn’t allow this. It honestly doesn’t cost them anything since I doubt the system would allow one to rent the same movie 2 times for 2 copies on the same account. Since they’re pretty much out of the process when the movie is downloaded from them, why not let people have a little more view time and keep it in more than one place during that time? I think it would actually help stimulate rentals by further differentiating the rental experience from Blockbuster or Netflix.

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