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Wednesday, November 21, 2007, 01:00 pm PT (04:00 pm ET)

Briefly: iTunes rentals; $100 off Office 2008; BlackBerry iPhone

Even more evidence has turned up to suggest Apple is prepping an iTunes movie rental service. Meanwhile, a one-day only rebate from Microsoft effectively offers $100 off the upcoming Mac Office 2008. And BlackBerry maker RIM is said to be preparing a touchscreen-based iPhone competitor.

More iTunes rental clues

More evidence of an iTunes movie rental service has been discovered, this time inside the iPhone's filesystem software — suggesting any such offering from Apple would be compatible with the mobile version of iTunes Store included with both the iPhone and iPod touch.

iPhone user "pumpkin" extracts the following rental references from the iPhone software:
pumpkin:~ pumpkin$ strings /usr/local/share/iphone-filesystem/usr/libexec/lockdownd | grep -i rental
trigger_rental_bag_verification: Could not retrieve FairPlayID
trigger_rental_bag_verification: Could not initialize FairPlay context
trigger_rental_bag_verification: Could not verify the rental bag response: %d
load_rental_bag_request: Could not retrieve FairPlayID
load_rental_bag_request: Could not initialize FairPlay context
load_rental_bag_request: Could not generate rental bag request
load_rental_bag_request: Could not create mutable dictionary
load_rental_bag_request: Could not create CFData from request message
load_rental_bag_request: Could not create CFArray
load_rental_bag_request: Could not create CFNumber from indice
RentalBagResponse
RentalBagRequest

Apple was previously rumored to have been in advanced talks with Hollywood’s largest movie studios about launching an online film rental service to challenge cable and satellite TV operators.

Save $100 on Office 2008 this Friday only

Meanwhile, Microsoft just informed us that its Mac Business Unit is kicking off the holiday shopping season by offering the "Best Friday Deal" on its Office productivity suite.

If you purchase a qualifying copy of Mac Office 2004 this Friday — and this Friday only — you are eligible for a $100 rebate. However, you're also automatically qualified for the company's existing Super Suite deal, which offers a free copy of the upcoming Office 2008 for Mac Special Edition for the cost of shipping and handling when you purchase Mac Office 2004 between November 1, 2007 and January 14, 2008. So, essentially, you're saving $100 off the cost of Office 2008 and getting a free copy of Office 2004 in the interim.

Office TBF


To take advantage of both these offers, simply purchase Office 2004 for Mac Standard Edition, Office 2004 for Mac Standard Edition Upgrade, or Office 2004 for Mac Student and Teacher Edition from an authorized reseller like Amazon.com on Friday. (Your receipt must be dated Friday, November 23, 2007.) Then print and complete the Super Suite Deal Redemption Form [pdf] and the Best Friday Deal $100 Rebate Form [pdf].

Those readers interested in Office 2008 for Mac may want to check out AppleInsider's recent Road to Mac Office 2008 series, installments of which are listed below in the order they were published.

Road to Mac Office 2008: an introduction
Road to Mac Office 2008: installation and interface
Road to Mac Office 2008: Word '08 vs Pages 3.0
Road to Mac Office 2008: Excel '08 vs Numbers 1.0
Road to Mac Office 2008: PowerPoint '08 vs Keynote 4.0
Road to Mac Office 2008: Entourage '08 vs Mail 3.0 and iCal 3.0

Next BlackBerry to follow in iPhone's steps?

The next generation of Research in Motion's BlackBerry phones may more resemble the iPhone than any of its current products, one analyst claims.

Expounding on earlier rumors, Carmi Levy of AR Communications argues that future 9000-series phones will detach completely from RIM's business roots, which are represented by the signature SureType keyboard on every current BlackBerry. This allows the phones' users to type much faster than they do on many competing devices. But, says Levi, "The 9000 is supposed to be a touchscreen device, very similar in form factor to the iPhone. Which means that it is not an enterprise-friendly device."

Levi speculates that while RIM wanted to have a 9000-series phone out by the end of 2007, one should still ship in the first quarter of next year. The company itself will only confirm that four or five new phones will be out in 2008, and Levi suggests that among these may be updated 8000-series phones such as a Curve with WiFi, or others with GPS tracking and still-sharper camera technology.