Rumor: Apple readying cloud-based movie streaming service

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Apple could launch a new movie service before the end of the year or in early 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper says representatives from Apple have been meeting with studios to finalize deals that would allow users to buy movies through iTunes and then access them on any iOS-based device.

Although the Los Angeles Times didn't cite iCloud specifically, the report says Apple plans to "put movies in the cloud." That sounds similar to the music, iBooks and document storage features of the newly launched service, so it makes sense that iCloud serves as the backbone for a movie service. It's unclear if movies and TV shows would be downloaded to devices -- as it's currently done with music and pictures -- or just streamed to save storage space.

The alleged talks coincide with Hollywood's plans to launch the Ultraviolet system, a multi-studio cloud-based streaming movie service that allows customers who buy a physical disc to access it in streaming media form as well. With this, studios wouldn't have to abandon the business model of selling expensive DVDs and Blu-ray discs, but they'll also provide more convenient ways of accessing content in an effort to make customers less likely to turn to piracy.

People familiar with the matter said that even though the studios were launching Ultraviolet, they are willing to partner with Apple for the new venture and there's even talk of customers being able to access their Ultraviolet-stored content through Apple’s offering. Apple currently accounts for 66% of online movie sales and DVD rentals.

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