Amid the kickoff of this year's MacWorld conference, where Apple's Steve Jobs is expected to announce — in addition to other more-exciting things — a new feature for the iTunes Music Store that will let users "rent" films from some studios for the not-quite-reasonable price of $4 a day, Netflix is apparently trying to rain on Apple's parade. The company is extending their "Watch Instantly" service to allow unlimited streaming of a limited selection of movies for anyone with an account (minus Mac users and the cheapskates who opted for the $4.99 a month plan, because, frankly, the hell with them).
Secretly drinking everyone's milkshakes, as usual, are the pirates. Over the weekend, high-quality versions of Juno and There Will Be Blood hit file-sharing networks, meaning that now almost every Oscar film (in addition to pretty much every movie ever) is being freely traded on BitTorrent, a free service that, so far at least, is more convenient, more reliable, and less annoying than any of its legal competition. To be fair, Apple and Netflix aren't totally to blame (it's probably mostly movie studios being stingy with licensing), but it's 2008 and if flying cars are still too much to hope for, then we should at least be able to legally watch Back to the Future on our iPods at a minute's notice without paying an arm and a leg.