Something's brewing at Apple, could it be feature films on iCloud?

Jim O'Neil

editor's corner

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is getting ready to launch the iCloud at its Worldwide Developer Conference that kicks off Monday, and, increasingly, it's looking like online video may be a part of the show, and if so, it could end up being a show stealer. That Steve Jobs, still on medical leave from the company, is planning to make an appearance and take part in the keynote (Monday, 10 a.m. PDT)  is also noteworthy.

The company yesterday took the unusual step of announcing the content of its keynote address: Lion, the eighth major release of Mac OS X; iOS 5, the next version of Apple's advanced mobile operating system which powers the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch; and Apple's upcoming cloud services offering.

Yesterday afternoon, another anomaly in the normally perfectly coiffed world of Apple releases and updates: it announced iWorks, its production suite currently available on Macs and the iPad now is ready for the iPhone and Pod touch. The announcement, just a week before WWDC, means Apple likely bumped it from debuting at the event for something else.

According to Cnet, that something else may be video.

The publication yesterday reported that, while talks between Apple and Hollywood have been going on for more than a year, Apple recently has heated up efforts to cut deals for licenses allowing it to store customers' movies, as well as their music, on iCloud, making them available on any web-connected device a user has.

A stumbling bock that may have been overcome is a deal between HBO and three major studios, NBC Universal, Warner Bros. Pictures and 20th Century Fox, that gives HBO exclusive distribution rights, blocking sales and rentals from other electronic outlets while the movie is showing on HBO. That would possibly even block customers from streaming titles they own to personal devices from the cloud during the blackout period.

But, Cnet points out, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes generally been a proponent of cloud storage and delivery (at least in the case of the industry's digital movie locker initiative UltraViolet), and optimists--and movie fans--are holding out hope that this is one instance where common sense prevails.--Jim