International iTunes gets serious

Peter Cohen, Macworld
5 February, 2008
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Apple has hired Kevin Swint to head up the company’s growing efforts to distribute television and video entertainment content abroad via the iTunes Store. Swint comes to Apple from American retail giant Wal-Mart, where he spearheaded that company’s now-defunct efforts to distribute music and movies electronically.

While US iTunes shoppers have plenty of digital media to choose from, the dearth of movie and TV content in international version of the online store has long been a sore spot for iTunes users outside the US. Some international versions of the iTunes Store offer television content, but the selection varies dramatically from country to country — in Australia, we get virtually no video content at all. Experts say that convoluted international distribution deals with content providers are to blame for the shortage.

Swint’s appointment, reported by, comes only a few weeks after Apple introduced movie rentals to users of the US iTunes Store.

That new service lets users download and view movies over a 24-hour period after they’ve started watching them, at prices from $US2.99 to $US4.99 depending on how recently the film was released and whether it’s in standard or high-definition quality. Apple has launched iTunes Movie Rentals with the support of all major movie studios, though the selection remains fairly slim.

When he introduced the new rental service during his keynote presentation at Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told the crowd that Apple is "dying" to offer the new service abroad, and said that it would happen later in 2008.

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