iTunes Movie Rental

I rent most of my movies from iTunes.  I really love the convenience of choosing, downloading and watching a movie in the comfort of my house and not worrying about late fees for late returns.  I have noticed some things have been getting to me recently though.

The Big Problem : Languages!

I am a native English speaker and my wife is a native Japanese speaker.  When we watch movies it is easiest for us if there are subtitles.  If I want to watch a Japanese movie, I would like English subtitles and sometimes I need them to fully understand.  It is the same for my wife.  When we want to watch an English movie, she would prefer Japanese subtitles.  So far we have probably rented about a hundred movies from iTunes and they were all English because there are no Japanese movies with English subtitles, at least none that I could find.  Also, when I watch a movie by myself I don’t want to see subtitles.  It can take me out of action movie or visually strong movie.

We have had DVDs available for 17 years!  17 YEARS!  The technology to embed multiple language tracks and subtitle files has existed for such a long time that it should be put to use!  Even YouTube videos often have subtitles or closed captioning available.  With the money and engineering power that Apple has they can surely create a new system that allows for multiple language to be available to users.

My solution:

In every user account you need to set your language preferences.  I imagine that Apple is already doing something like this because my Japanese Apple displays a lot of information to me in English.  The settings may be Native language, second and third language choice.  The movie file could actually be three parts.  ① The video ② the audio track ③ the subtitle track.  Each country can host the necessary files for that language and the master database has the necessary information about what languages are available for what movies.  When you choose a video that you want to rent, that has all the language necessities you are looking for, you grab the three parts from the appropriate servers that way you do not waste your bandwidth downloading unnecessary language files.  If the file is in parts, it might also be useful to make the other language files available for download during your rental period.

I have a feeling that I am not the only one out there who feels like this incredible technology is being wasted by people throwing something together quickly to make a buck.  The world is getting smaller.  Even though Japanese is the dominant language in Japan does not mean that there are not a sufficient number of [Spanish, English, French, Chinese, etc.] speakers to make the innovation worth their while.  The easier you can make it for the customer and the better the experience, the more they will pay!

I skipped over a dozen movies because they were not available in the original English.  For Example, “Coming to America” with Eddie Murphy.  I was browsing and came across it.  I was so happy then I noticed that it was only available in Dubbed Japanese.  Boring!  Comedy does not translate well.  I would also love to rent a lot of Japanese movies but can not through iTunes because there are no subtitles available.

I wanted to try netflix instead but they say they are not available here… yet.

Just my two cents.


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