Rumors…. (updated) [4:04 pm]
Rumors of Apple Computer Inc.’s plans to launch a movie download service gained momentum Tuesday after the company sent invitations to the media, saying “It’s Showtime,” next week.
The media event scheduled for Sept. 12 is set in San Francisco and coincides with the opening day of the Apple Expo in Paris.
The movie business is about to change: Apple Computer Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. are in the final stages of building online services that allow easy, legal access to potentially thousands of movies on demand.
[...] Apple and Amazon declined comment Tuesday. Their plans, however, were confirmed by several people familiar with them. Details such as pricing and title lineups were unclear Tuesday, as was information about how the rival services will work.
But the entry of Apple and Amazon is particularly significant because they are adept at making the masses comfortable with large-scale technological shifts. Apple popularized legal music downloads and Amazon did the same for online shopping by making the process easy, fast and reliable, even for technophobes.
Analysts said the new services will almost certainly accelerate the race toward digital distribution, a transformation that is at once threatening and tantalizing to Hollywood.
[...] Although the movie majors are fearful of moving too quickly and cannibalizing DVD revenue or alienating powerful retailers, they recognize that DVD sales are slowing and hope to find new income streams.
They are also mindful that the record labels were widely seen as moving too slowly to counter the spread of online piracy with reasonably priced and easy-to-use alternatives.
“There’s a lot of talk out there along the lines of, ‘We don’t want to make the same mistake the music industry made,’ ” [Radar Research's Aram] Sinnreich said.