Well behind the American iTunes Store, earlier this month (June 2008) Apple gave iTunes Store customers in the UK the chance to rent (or purchase) movie downloads. Initially I wasn’t sure I’d want to watch movies at my computer, even though I have a good screen and sound system. But I had to try it. With a 17Mbps downstream broadband connection getting the movie onto the computer posed no problem (a typical 1GB movie takes a few minutes). Trouble is all I see is a grey box with no audio. Now that I can’t do it, of course I’m more inclined to want to.
My iTunes Store account allows me to playback my DRM-protected iTunes music, a free TV episode, and a purchased short film with no problems. I’m running the latest version of OS X (10.5.3) with the latest version of iTunes (7.6.2) and QuickTime (7.5). I’ve now tried renting two films, hearing nothing and seeing only this during desktop playback:
Hmmm.. if I wanted to look at nothing but dull grey I shouldn’t have to pay for it—I can just look out the window at English skies.
Oddly, when I moved the movie onto my iPhone I could watch it (and hear it) as expected. It seems I’m not alone having this issue, according to discussion in the Apple Support Forums. A number of suggestions have been made, most of which I have tried to no avail:
- Re-installed QuickTime 7.5 (on top of the previous: there is no “uninstaller”);
- Re-installed iTunes;
- Removed Perian and Flip4Mac WMV;
- Disabled the OS X Firewall;
- Bought music after renting the movie;
- Moved the movie to iPhone and back again.
I explained all this to Apple using the “Report a problem” option in iTunes Accounts. They said:
If you see a grey screen when you try to play or preview a video, you probably need to install the latest QuickTime upgrade.
I replied, politely asking if they perhaps had an alternative suggestion, or whether they would simply recommend I stick to my local video store. They said my “request is flagged for follow-up”.
If anyone else has had this issue and have successfully resolved it themselves please do share how (my faith in help/ support desks is rather fragile).
Update 09.07.08: I don’t know how, but rental playback in iTunes is now working. The only thing I noticed was that I was signed out of iTMS at the time, having paid a visit to another Store. Beats me!