Sony is quietly adding bonus feature content to select iTunes releases including the Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg action comedy The Other Guys, Salt and Resident Evil: Afterlife. If you buy one of these three films, you will be able to use a new search feature that allows you to input a word and pinpoint scenes within the movie that use the search term. You can also take advantage of a "clip & share" function that lets you post select scenes to social networks as well as browse a playlist populated with songs from the film. Each song is available as a preview and linked to a purchase page on iTunes. These extras are iTunes-specific and not available on DVD editions or other digital content providers like Amazon Unbox.
This ability of movie studios to add bonus content was added when Apple introduced iTunes 9. Though available for over a year, this iTunes Extras feature is widely underused by content producers. A reason for this limited adoption is the poor support of this feature by Apple. When you buy a film with bonus content, you can only view these extras on the first generation Apple TV and the desktop version of iTunes (Windows or Mac). All iOS devices, including the media-friendly iPad, the iPod touch and the iPhone, are not compatible with this feature. Embarrassingly, the second generation Apple TV, designed for media consumption such as this, will not playback iTunes Extras content.
If Apple wants this feature to take off, then it must roll out iTunes Extras support to its latest generation hardware. Though Sony may be exploring this value-added content as way to differentiate its offerings from those of its competition, it may not continue this experiment if its adoption rate is poor. In the future, Sony may turn away from iTunes and bring this extra content to its PS3 network or other digital storefronts instead. Such a move would be a lose-lose situation for Apple and its iTunes customers.