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Apple Adds iTunes HD Movies; Amazon Eyes HD, Too

Hoping to take a big bite out of the HD download movie pie, Apple's iTunes Store has begun offering motion picture titles in what it says is HD quality—for rent or for purchase. (It's been stream-renting TV shows in HD for several months.)

Similar to the services already provided by Netflix, Blockbuster and a few other HD streamers, Apple is counting on its brand name (and the popularity of its virtual store) in its inclusion of HD content via iTunes, albeit its initial offerings are sparse: Earlier this week it was offering only about a dozen HD titles available immediately, although starting this week it's offering two recent theater blockbusters—"Quantum of Solace" and "Twilight."

Apple's HD price list includes $20 for most HD purchases, $5 for new-release rentals, and $4 for older-title rentals. (HD rental prices are $1 higher than non-HD transactions.) Apple has been offering primetime television shows on iTunes in HD from all four major networks since the fall of 2008.

There were also published reports in recent days (including some New York Times blogs), suggesting that also is on the verge of ramping up HD VOD streams of TV shows (reported to be $3 per episode), but no word about full-length movies in HD yet for the online retailer.