Apple has expanded its iTunes in the Cloud service for films to the UK, a year after it was first introduced in the US.
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The service lets film fans watch movies purchased through iTunes on iPhones and iPads without using any extra storage space on the devices.
The expansion gives Apple a head start over rivals Google and Amazon, which have so far failed to settle rights deals to allow cloud-based storage of films in the UK. Amazon’s Cloud Player is only available in the US, and Google’s Play store in the UK does not include music, magazines or TV shows. Google Play does though mean that people who have rented a film on one device can watch it on another without extra cost.
Apple says it has secured rights deals with major studios, including Warner Bros and Universal, to bring the service to the UK, Ireland and 38 other countries around the world. Films such as Sherlock Holmes and Bridesmaids will be available from Friday.
iTunes in the Cloud is part of Apple’s iCloud service, which allows music, films and TV shows to be digitally transferred to a number of devices via wireless connections. Apple also has multi-country deals for its iTunes Match service, which lets users stream and download “matched” copies of songs they own which exist on iTunes, or which have been uploaded to the service, on up to five devices. Though Amazon and Google have US deals for “music locker” services that let people upload and stream their own music, neither has been able to extend it beyond the US after more than nine months.
Apple’s latest move means UK users can store music, music videos, movies, TV shows, apps and books purchased through iTunes in the cloud.
International rights issues mean that manufacturers must strike deals for music and TV shows in individual countries. Settling the costly deals has become a thorny issue for Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft as they each battle for primacy in the increasingly competitive tablet and smartphone markets.
Apple says it has signed rights deals with major studios including Warner Bros, ABC-Disney, Universal, Fox, Paramount and Sony Pictures.
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