Apple clashes with Hollywood over 4K content and pricing

29 Aug 2017

Apple TV device next to 4K Pansonic Plasma OLED display. Image: Hadrian/Shutterstock

It’s Apple vs Hollywood in epic new battle of the ultra high-res 4K standards.

Apple is caught up in a row with the major Hollywood studios over the pricing of ultra high-resolution 4K movies ahead of the roll-out of the new Apple TV.

On 12 September, along with potentially three new iPhone devices, Apple is expected to unveil a new version of its Apple TV streaming media device.

However, the fanfare for the launch could be mired in a contract dispute with movie studios who want to see iTunes prices for 4K films exceed $20.

Apple normally charges $19.99 for new HD movie releases in 1080p resolution.

However, the Hollywood studios want to see Apple add $5 to $10 more to the price, making a new release cost up to $30, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This would be a tough sell for Apple when you consider Netflix charges $12 per month for streaming 4K content.

All the screens, all the time

The core of the issue between Apple and the studios is ultimately about profit margins that the studios can glean from new releases.

As well as new iPhone products, Apple is on the verge of launching a new Siri-based speaker system called HomePod to compete with Amazon’s Echo and Alphabet’s Google Home speaker-based assistants.

Lines of code discovered in Apple’s HomePod firmware revealed Apple is working on a next-generation Apple TV that supports 4K video and HDR in both 10-bit and Dolby Vision formats, according to AppleInsider.

Apple is facing significant competition in the market for home-based internet of things (IoT) technologies and, especially, streaming products like the Apple TV. Both Amazon and Roku have streaming products on the market that already have 4K streaming capabilities.

Apple TV currently has 15pc of the streaming TV appliance market, according to Parks Associates, down from 19pc a year ago.

However, key to the Apple mindset is encouraging loyal users to have a complete ecosystem of products in their home, in their cars, in their pockets, on their work desks and, most recently with AirPods, on their body.

As the IoT world converges on the home, however, a vibrant mix of affordable 4K content would be very much in the Hollywood studios’ and Apple’s best interests.

Apple TV device next to 4K Pansonic Plasma OLED display. Image: Hadrian/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years