Warner unveils ‘app editions,’ an alternative to iTunes

Warner Bros. is doubling down when it comes to digital distribution on Apple products. App edition - inception

The company has unveiled “app editions” of both “Inception” and “The Dark Knight” for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad – an alternate way for people to buy their films and an opportunity for consumers in 23 countries not served by iTunes to get a copy as well.

It’s the beginning of a larger roll-out for the companies. Warner won’t say how many films it’s planning to give this treatment to, but says the number will be significant and will be comprised of both catalog content and new releases.

Free versions of the app editions give viewers an opportunity to watch the first five minutes of a feature film, as well as some bonus content including behind the scenes extras, games, trivia, soundtracks and soundboards.

People who buy the film – at $11.99 for “Inception” or $9.99 for “The Dark Knight” – unlock all of the app’s features in addition to getting the feature. These include hours of special features, songs from the film’s soundtrack, the ability to watch the film in 34 languages, social integration (importing feeds from Facebook and Twitter that are discussing the film) and the ability to clip sound bites and customize ringtones.

One possible downside: Unlike iTunes purchases, buyers of app editions won’t be able to transfer their copies to other devices as everything is tied specifically to the app itself. That could change down the road, though, as Warner says it plans to constantly update and refine the app editions.

“We can retroactively go back and update these apps and make them better over time,” he says. “We view this as an early example of an effort to innovate the connected movie experience.”

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