Google is taking big steps into mainstream entertainment with its just-announced YouTube movie rental feature, and its Google Music service is expected to be unveiled overnight.
Overnight YouTube announced on the Official YouTube Blog
its new YouTube movie rentals feature, which allows users in the US to rent Hollywood studio movies and stream them directly to their PCs.
Camille Hearst and Matt Darby (YouTube's Product Marketing Manager and Product Manager respectively) said on the YouTube blog: "Today, we’re announcing another step in our goal to bring more of the video you love to YouTube: the addition of thousands of full-length feature films from major Hollywood studios available to rent in the US at youtube.com/movies."
Films available on the site range from "memorable hits and cult classics like Caddyshack, Goodfellas, Scarface, and Taxi Driver to blockbuster new releases like Inception, The King’s Speech, Little Fockers, The Green Hornet and Despicable Me", with new titles scheduled to appear in coming weeks.
Pricing is said to be "industry standard", which translates to a few dollars per rental. A YouTube account is required to access the feature. Warner Bros, Sony Pictures and Universal are among the major studios who have signed up to provide content.
There is no word as yet on whether the service will be made available to users outside the US. APC asked Google Australia if and when Australian users could expect to see YouTube movie rentals arrive locally and were told by a YouTube spokesperson: "[M]ovies for rent are currently available only to US users. We are focused on the US service and have no specific timeline for rolling movies for rent out internationally."
If the service is rolled out here, it will put increasing pressure on the conventional video rental store market, which is already facing tough times in the wake of illegal downloads, legitimate download sites and DVD mailout services.
In addition to the foray into movie rentals, Google is also widely tipped to be unveiling its long-awaited cloud music service overnight at its I/O developer conference in San Francisco. Google Music is expected to offer users the ability to upload their music collections to the cloud, so that they will be able to stream tunes to multiple internet-connected devices, wherever they are.
If the rumours are true, Google Music will be similar to Amazon's Cloud Drive offering released earlier in the year, although it remains to be seen if the company has established commercial ties with any of the major music labels (for users to be able to legally purchase music through the site, in addition to uploading their current libraries). Apple is also believed to be making an imminent move into the streaming music space, in order to augment its already dominant iTunes Music Store.