Wired’s newsflash: Apple iTunes movie rentals still do not work on older iPods

On January 15, 2008, Apple announced iTunes Movie Rentals featuring movies from all the major movie studios including 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Lionsgate and New Line Cinema. Users can rent movies for as low as US$2.99 and watch them on their Macs or PCs, all current generation iPods, iPhone and Apple TV.

In their press release, Apple stated clearly, “Movie rentals work on iPod classic, iPod nano with video and iPod touch.

Two weeks later, some people seem surprised that movie rentals still do not work on iPods other than iPod classic, iPod nano with video and iPod touch as evidenced by Wired’s Bryan Gardner’s newsflash published today, “Apple Prohibits Movie Rentals on Recent iPods.” Oh, the humanity.

After the usual misplaced hysterics (a particularly funny one: “This is false advertising,” says Raymond Blanchard, a disgruntled iPod owner. “I demand an upgrade or fix.”), Gardner does finally get around to the actual facts, “For now, the most likely suspect has to do with what some have deemed the ‘analog hole’ present in 5-G iPods. Previous generation iPods have an analog video output that works with standard video cables. As some have observed, this theoretically makes it easier to copy rented movies, by plugging the iPod into a camcorder or other video-recording device.”

“Yankee Group’s Carl Howe offers another likely reason for 5-G iPod-rental incompatibility. ‘The other factor is whether you have a secure real-time clock,’ Howe explains. ‘Why do I want a secure clock? Because you don’t want people messing with the time code since (iTunes) rentals are only supposed to last 24 hours after you start viewing them.’ This was almost certainly a requirement imposed by the movie studios, he concludes,” Gardner reports.

“Howe says, iPods don’t fall under the growing trend of ‘hardware as a service,’ whereby hardware receives continuous upgrades via firmware updates [as with iPhone and Apple TV],” Gardner reports.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Curtis” for the heads up.]


  1. This is funny on several levels to me, but what is happening on a basic level is that people are being educated in Apple’s way of doing things. That is, they mean what they say.

  2. There are compromises everywhere. My old iPod won’t play video of any kind, nor will it display photos. No one purchased the 5G iPod with the expectation of viewing rented movies. Once again some people need to be reminded that their equipment does nothing less than it did when it warranted a purchase. As technology moves forward most of us get left behind unless we pony up more cash. Why is Apple always being singled out for this? Oh yeah, Apple is the only one innovating at the speed of light.

  3. This is obviously not false advertising on Apple’s part, so nobody has the right to be legitimately angry. That being said, I’m sure Apple could have made available for download the appropriate software upgrade. I don’t have a previous iPod video, but I can understand people wanting the software upgrade–even at a price, like with the iPod touch.

  4. Raymond Blanchard and those of his ilk need to get a clue. Have they attempted to compile a list of all of the other commercial devices that can be updated to include functionality that is provided on newer models?

    Overall, I believe that Apple has done a nice job in providing computers/devices with lengthy operational lives and good upgrade paths. Older Macs can generally run the fifth generation of MacOS X reasonably well, iPod/iPod touch updates, AppleTV updates, iPhone updates, etc.

    One thing that Apple does that bugs me is changing interface types/locations and using slightly non-standard or recessed connectors, etc. But things did get much better after Apple bought into industry standard such as PCI, USB, etc. One of my last remaining gripes is that you can’t plug a standard ‘PC’ video card into a Mac. Let’s get away from Mac-specific video cards!

  5. I’m going to contact Blanchard and see if he wants to join my class action suit. I’m suing Apple because my Apple ][ won’t rent movies from iTunes. It won’t even run OS X! How could they do this most heinous and dastardly deed? Recidivists,they are!

  6. I was disappointed that the rentals wouldn’t work on my 5th gen iPod. The copy on Apple’s Web site, as well as the help in iTunes itself, referred to copying movies to “your iPod.” It seems reasonable that 5th gen owners might well have expected that iPods, which are perfectly capable of playing movies, would have been able to handle rentals.

    I have a feeling that the vast majority of these onerous limitations aren’t due to Apple but to the studios.

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