Apple is talking with movie studios about storing films in the cloud and streaming them to iOS devices, according to a handful of new reports.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the plan, which will take effect either later this year or early 2012, will let users purchase streaming movies via the iTunes Store. The LA Times cited unnamed sources for the information.
If verified, it would place Apple on a more direct collision course with Amazon, whose Kindle Fire tablet promises to compete with the iPad for consumer dollars this holiday season, and Netflix, which provides its subscribers with streaming content. It would also signify Apple's ever-deeper foray into the cloud, where it already lets users store music and other data.
Apple's chief competition in that arena includes Amazon's cloud-based locker and player for music, in addition to its video-streaming services through Amazon Prime, and Google's growing portfolio of cloud services. Certainly Amazon and Google have designs on larger areas of the cloud, including services and applications for corporations, that Apple seems intent on avoiding for the moment. But in the consumer space, the cloud competition is more intense than ever.
Amazon's Kindle Fire, priced at $199.99 and available in mid-November, is less a robust tablet (it lacks a camera and access to a 3G or 4G network, for example) and more a hardware conduit for content from the Web and Amazon's Website. In conjunction with Amazon's streaming service, that makes it a viable iPad challenger for those tablet shoppers who want a device solely for multimedia. If Apple secures a series of streaming-content deals for the iPad and iPhone, it could help even the playing field in that regard.
In conjunction with its new iCloud service, Apple has also included a raft of security patches for Mac OS X, iOS and associated software. So far, users trying to download the new version of iTunes, and from there the new iOS 5 operating system, have reportedly strained Apple's servers, leading to error messages and irate users on Twitter and Apple support forums.
As a company, Apple is also dealing with the death of co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, who passed away the day after the iPhone 4S debuted Oct. 4. Under Jobs' leadership, the company rolled out a line of hit products such as the iPhone, the iPod and the MacBook Air. Current CEO Tim Cook now has the responsibility of guiding the company forward, although reports indicate that Jobs left several years' worth of product plans before his death.