Apple has inked a deal with 20th Century Fox to offer an on-demand video rental service through their iTunes interface. Perhaps as interesting as that tidbit, Apple is also offering their Digital Rights Management system to Fox for their DVD releases.
Apart from letting people rent online, Apple will also for the first time extend its FairPlay digital rights management system beyond its own products.
A digital file protected by FairPlay will be included in new Fox DVD releases, enabling film content to be transferred or “ripped” from the disc to a computer and video iPod. DVD content can already be moved to an iPod but this requires special software and is considered piracy by some studios.
So it appears that Apple is gaining in both directions here. On the hardware side, by offering better content on iTunes and expanding properly licensed video content availability through their DRM, they might spur sales of their video players, and simultaneously maybe make something worthwhile for their Apple TV set top boxes to do. On the content side they're making money by renting the videos themselves through their service. Ask not who the bell tolls for, brick and mortar video rental stores; it tolls for you.