Apple could be planning to release a brand new feature called Replay in iTunes 8 via an update, which will allow customers to stream video that they have purchased through the online store.
According to well-informed Mac website Appleinsider, customers will be able to stream content at will on a number of devices that will be registered to the service (raising the spectre of digital rights management issues). Ultimately, Apple wants to implement a view content "anywhere, anywhere" system while at the same time saving the users precious hard disk space.
US-based Netflix has released a similar service - Watch Instantly - and in UK, only BBC's iPlayer offers anything remotely close to what Apple could be planning. It is not clear whether Apple will be charging an additional fee for the service and whether the big studios will give their approvals to this scheme.
Replay would require significant amounts of premium bandwidth which will make it a chore on wireless devices like the iPod touch or the iPhone due to the relative instability of wireless connections. It is unlikely, because of the nature of the service, that it will be released as a free feature, something the studios would have almost certainly rejected.
This service will useful for the Apple TV which experts say should undergo a major refresh this year. Arstechnica has highlights the fact that Apple has enlisted Limelight Networks as a second content distribution network on top of Akamai. This could mean that it is getting ready to boost the amount of data that will transit from iTunes.
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It would make sense for Apple to have streaming services for the Apple TV. However, we doubt that wireless connections will be able to handle the traffic to allow streaming content with the level of comfort that we enjoy at home. But given that Apple will be working closely with their mobile network providers, we hope to be proved wrong.