As expected, Disney has signed a deal with Apple to provide digital movie rentals over iTunes. The terms are similar to last week's deal with Fox. While this isn't particularly surprising — Steve Jobs owns a huge chunk of Disney from when the company bought his Pixar animation studio — it is good news for Apple. Can you name any Fox movies off the top of your head? Neither can I. But I know a ton of Disney flicks that are worth watching. Among them, Pixar's small but universally brilliant library of family movies, which will help iTunes appeal to moms and dads. OK, so that's two studios down. What about the rest? Variety reports that Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. are unlikely to sign on for "various competitive reasons."
Let's spell those out: Sony hates Apple for turning the iPod into the Walkman of the 21st century. Universal is owned by NBC, which has had a big spat with Apple over TV shows. As for Warner Bros. — which is no longer affiliated with Warner Music, the record label which signed a music-download deal with Apple rival Amazon.com recently — it's not clear what the competitive issue might be. But Warner did recently hire Thomas Gewecke, formerly an executive at the Sony BMG music group, to run digital distribution. He may not have fond memories of negotiating with Steve Jobs.