Apple, Could You do for Movies and TV Shows What You did for Music?

I would like to suggest that Apple make something like “Complete My Album” and “Upgrade to iTunes Plus” available for movies, TV shows and music videos. Such iTunes features could revolutionize how people electronically rent or buy video content.

There are occasional iTunes sales and promotions that do some of what I want to suggest (and hopefully I haven’t missed any important perpetual promotions or features). I’m convinced that iTunes Store could use the upsell “complete my this or that” strategy to further leap ahead of competing digital download services. Of course, content copyright holders and distributors would have to be willing parties to the changes.

My requests/suggestions:

Complete My Purchase: People renting movies, particularly in HD, would be given a limited-time option to apply their rental fee to the full purchase price. So, if someone rents “Quantum of Solace” in HD for $4.99 and really likes it, he or she could buy the movie for $15 instead of $19.99.

Complete My Season Pass: Similarly, if someone buys a few episodes of “House,” he or she could purchase the remaining Season Pass without paying for the already purchased ones.

Upgrade to HD: Someone who had purchased movies, music videos or TV shows in standard definition could go HD for the price difference between the formats. Long ago, I bought “Battlestar Galactica, Season 1” in standard definition (HD wasn’t available at the time). I would pay the difference for HD.

I’m convinced that options to upgrade to HD or purchase from rentals would extend the utility of the iTunes Store. How many more people would rent, if they knew of an option to buy discounted from their rental? How many people would buy standard definition today only to upgrade to discounted HD when available?

Surely the licensing issues can’t be insurmountable. Already, Apple offers standard versions with HD purchases for iPhone and iPod touch. Content providers would profit from the upsell, right? I ask that as a question, not knowing margin differences for rentals versus sales. I know that margins tend to higher for subscription music content than tracks that are sold. I don’t know the breakdown for video content.

I wouldn’t make the suggestion if not for Apple’s great HD implementation. For example, I found the perceived HD quality of “Defying Gravity” episode 3 to be much better and more enjoyable to watch on a 13-inch MacBook Pro than the HD broadcast from ABC through AT&T U-verse to a 42-inch LCD TV. Perhaps the broadcast HD is more compressed.

What suggestions would you make to Apple about iTunes Store video content?

Editor’s Note: An updated version of this post appeared at Betanews on Dec. 3, 2009.