CUPERTINO, California: Apple Computer has launched a US movie rental service via its online iTunes Store, plus a revamp of its TV settop box allowing viewers to stream films direct without need of a computer.

The technology titan has recruited all six major movie studios to supply content and will roll-out the service internationally later in the year.

Ceo Steve Jobs acknowledged Apple's first attempt to bring online video to television via its settop device had not been an unqualified success.

Viewers were less eager to buy movies than expected, racking up just 7 million downloads, in contrast to 125 million TV shows and more than four billion songs.

Hence the move into rentals. The service offers new movies thirty days after their DVD release, with new titles renting for $3.99 (€2.69; £2.03) each and older movies for $2.99.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff