Apple upgrades iTunes store with HD blockbuster movies rentals and purchases

Cupertino (CA) –  Apple is now offering box office blockbusters such as “Quantum of Solace” and “Twilight” in HD for purchase and rent. And yes, you guessed it, the privilege of owning such a movie isn’t cheap.

This is the first time Apple has offered (720p) high-definition movies for both streaming or purchase on desktops. Until this announcement, HD streaming and purchasing via the iTunes story was strictly limited to Apple TV — which has HDMI with HDCP copy-protection, meaning users can’t copy high-definition content from the iTunes store.

Apple’s stronger focus on high-definition seems to be a natural evolution as the company claims that more than 50% of TV programming is being purchased in HD, if available. HD movies are an opportunity to charge a premium for content and improve the average paid price per download.

If you are interested in movies such as “Quantum of Solace” and “Twilight” in “stunning” HD, you’ll have to plunk down $19.99 for every download and $4.99 for a rental. Apple says that movies will be available as HD rentals within 30 days after their release. Standard definition rentals are priced at $2.99.

iTunes customers can pre-order “Quantum of Solace” today and download to their computer on March 24; “Twilight” will be available on March 21 and “The Spirit” will be available on April 14.  Titles such as “Transporter 3”, “Punisher: War Zone” and some other titles are already available in HD.