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Resolved: Arguments for additional rental time aren't realistic


In the second half of our iTunes movie rental debate, Christina takes the "Con" position on extended-duration rentals, and in the process will probably draw ire from all the parents out there.

Let me start by saying that I'm not opposed to a rental extension period. As a single, non-breeder with no plans to join the Momfia (as coined by Michael Rose), I'm not immune to things happening that interrupt my 24-hour viewing window for a movie; that's life. Let me also say that I completely sympathize with the struggle that juggling kids and a job must entail and I appreciate that finding uninterrupted time to enjoy a movie can be difficult.

But while I would gladly welcome the opportunity to add a few hours onto the rental time (or another day), I have a small problem with the basic argument that it is impossible for parents (or anyone for that matter) to find the time to watch a movie within a limited time frame. These arguments strike me as pretty unrealistic for what will happen 95% of the time and while I have no problem criticizing Apple's rental model on a number of levels, the rental duration is not one of them. In fact, I would argue that the options we have now are significantly better than they have ever been in the past.

More than twenty years ago, my parents were able to rent videos and watch them in the 24 hour window (and this was when video rentals were, with inflation, probably $10 a night and the late fees were insane -- often far more than just renting a title for another day) without a problem. In the early 1990s, when Pay-Per-View was all the rage, people were able to adjust to sitting down and watching a movie, despite the fact that flexible start times didn't exist until the late 1990s (meaning that if you ordered the movie at two minutes past the start time, the movie started two minutes in, and in the OLD school days, you couldn't even order from the cable box, you had to call an automated number, which could delay the time it took for the film to arrive on your box). Plus, there was no option to pause or rewind a movie on the fly. If Little Johnny needed a drink of water, your recourse was to either record the movie on your VCR (but you would still have to wait for the entire movie to finish recording before you could rewind) or you would wind up renting "Cliffhanger" four times in one month at $5.99 a pop (which my own family did do, not because of bedtime hijinx but because we were really bad about telling one another when we were renting something).

Again, I appreciate that finding time to watch something can be difficult for parents, but I find it hard to believe that the behavior of even young children has devolved the level that stealing some time to watch a movie is impossible. And really, if you can't find 24 hours to rent a movie, either consider buying it for $10 or rent the DVD from Netflix. If an emergency does come up, well, spending another $3 or $4 isn't the end of the world. It's less than half the price of one movie ticket.

I hardly see why Apple (or any company) should have to answer for parents' inability to get their kids to stay in bed. Do things come up? Absolutely, but that goes for everyone -- not just parents -- but the idea that there is absolutely no way a movie can be viewed within 24 hours because your kids have such erratic bedtime issues seems to be a problem the family might want to address, not Apple.

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