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'iTunes Replay' On-Demand Video Coming?

AppleInsider reports that Apple is developing an on-demand video service that would allow users to stream their purchased iTunes movies and TV shows from Apple's servers for playback on personal devices. The service, to be called "iTunes Replay", would eliminate the need for users to provide significant storage space for their libraries of purchased digital video.

In particular, devices with limited storage capacity, such as the iPhone/iPod touch and Apple TV, could benefit from this service, removing the need to sync with a host computer to load desired video files and circumventing storage capacity constraints of the portable devices.

The iTunes Replay service could also improve the experience of the company's Apple TV set top box, allowing users to stream purchased media directly from Apple's servers without ever syncing or copying files between Apple TV and a computer running iTunes, and without filling up the devices' limited hard drive space, which currently tops out at 160 GB.

The ability to stream purchased content directly would also benefit users of mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch, which have an even greater limit on local storage capacity but already have the ability to stream QuickTime content directly over the air.

AppleInsider notes that while Amazon's Video on Demand and Netflix's Instant Watch services provide similar functionality, DRM requirements imposed by content owners have resulted in certain limitations on playback ability, generally requiring an Internet browser. Apple, however, has already integrated DRM tools into its devices, which would allow for a more flexible viewing experience for users.

Apple has been known to be exploring streaming iTunes media to the iPhone and iPod touch, with a recent patent application addressing the ability for users to stream their own at-home iTunes libraries to their mobile devices while on the go.