Apple today announced an upgraded service to its popular iTunes music store that will allow users to offiicially start purchasing full length movies and shows. The new service will be integrated into iTunes, which means users can browse both music and movies in one interface. Movies from a wide array of major studios will be available along with independent film makers.At first however, Apple will be offering movies from Miramax, Pixar, Touchstone Pictures and Walt Disney Studios. Along with TV shows, the movies will be available for $9.99 per movie. New releases will be priced at $14.99 but if users pre-order them, they can grab pre-releases for a discounted price of $12.99.The movies will be encoded at 640x480 resolution and Apple claims the movies will be near DVD quality, although DVD resolution is officially 720x480. Audio in the movies will also be encoded with Dolby Digital encoding, offering surround sound during playback. Currently, the new video purchase extension to iTunes is available to North American customers and users only. Apple says that International audiences will be able to purchase movies in 2007 although this will depend on certain criteria.
Analysts expect the new iTunes service to drive up sales of Apple's iPods well through the holiday season. Along with the new iTunes movie service, Apple today also announced a refresh to its iPod Video. Throughout 2006, the majority of Apple's announcements have been about its transition over to Intel processors and new notebook and desktop launches.