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Does iTunes Extras Spell The Demise of Hard Media?

Written by , on November 18, 2009 at 5:12 pm 

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The other day fellow Film Stage writer Hash Aguirre told me he purchased J.J. Abrams’ summer hit Star Trek on iTunes via a digital file. I was extremely confused when he told me this because like me, Hash is a big time hard disc media supporter. This is when he hit me with a bomb shell I was never expecting. He told me that iTunes was offering DVD style features along with the films purchase. I couldn’t believe it, so I went on to iTunes myself and I saw the picture above. What I want you to notice is the upper right hand corner of the screen, the tiny box that says iTunes Extras. Then look underneath that box:

Over 40 Exclusive Images
A Making of Documentary
Poster Galleries, International Trailers
Secret Code That Unlocks Hidden Content!

This shocked me to the core. These features seem like something one would expect when purchasing a single disc DVD version of the film. If this is the new route that iTunes is taking than this look like it could put quite a dent in hard disc media. One of the big things that kept hardcore collectors (like me and many of you) from switching was the fact that we love things like commentary, making of documentaries, blooper reels, concept art galleries, and anything else you can think of, but, if they are going to start being offered with digital purchases than there is no more reason to deny the inevitable.

Could we really only be a few years away from commentary tracks and easter eggs on digital movie purchases? ITunes is not only offering these featurettes but they present them in a DVD menu style format. When you purchase a film on iTunes that includes these iTunes Extras the movie comes as part of a digital dvd menu. This includes ways to navigate chapter selection, special features, etc… (see below image)

ITE

This is all began with the latest version of iTunes (9.0). With this version came two very important items. iTunes Extras and iTunes LP. iTunes LP is basically iTunes Extras for music. You can see a video on what is included with iTunes LP here. As you can see many similar ideas are included. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a video version of the iTunes Extras navigation interface for movie but you get the idea. Apple has been the leader of the digital revolution ever since MP3′s became popular. The fact that these iTunes Extras have begun to be offered should come as no surprise.

Am I currently setting all my hard disc media a blaze and running over to iTunes? No, but if iTunes continues to add more and more features to the point that all the features on your standard DVDs and Blu Rays will be available digitally then I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Blu-ray Disc will be the final hard disc media format to exist.

Do you think hard media will go away in a decade or so? Does iTunes Extra hint at what the future holds?


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