It’s 2017, 4K is everywhere. 4K TVs are getting cheaper, 4K projectors are constantly hitting the market, HDR is becoming more prevalent, and heck, we’ve even got 4K displays on smartphones. All those extra pixels are a big deal, but movie studios continue to charge ridiculous prices for them. Apple just showed the entire industry how it’s done, and its time for them to follow suit.

4K HDR pricing is insane

Right now if I go pick up Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 or Wonder Woman in 4K (as I have), it costs from $25 to $30. For one film in digital, that’s pretty ridiculous, especially when the 1080p version often goes on sale, leaving an even larger gap than the standard $10.

Apple, meanwhile, announced yesterday that it’s going to be charging the same prices for 4K HDR content as it does for standard content. That means a 4K movie bought for Apple TV will run the same $20 or so as one in Full HD. Long story short, that’s an insanely awesome move from the company, and one that I hope everyone else follows.

It is important to note, though, that Apple is in a unique position to do this. While it may not sell the most movies of anyone else in the industry, Apple TV users buy from iTunes and iTunes is a massive driver of revenue. Apple can much more easily strong arm studios into the pricing models they want.

Google and other outlets may not have the same pull, unfortunately, but now that Apple has opened the door, it shows that studios are willing to work out deals.

Google Play (and everything else) needs an upgrade option

The other mind-blowingly awesome thing that Apple is doing with 4K is upgrading all Full HD content that has a 4K counterpart to that new, higher resolution. When that was announced on stage I couldn’t help but be ridiculously impressed. A free upgrade to 4K?!

Meanwhile, on Google Play, Vudu, and the rest of the industry, you don’t even have the paid option to upgrade. If you purchased a 720p or 1080p film and later bought a 4K TV and want to view that movie in higher resolution on your new Nvidia Shield TV, you’re out of luck.

With Google Play, movies are bought as a “one and done” purchase. Once you’ve bought there’s no way to upgrade that content, or even repurchase it at all full price to get 4K. This is something that irritates a lot of users, as it should. And it’s getting kind of old.

I’m not saying Google needs to copy Apple directly here and give out free upgrades (although that would certainly be nice), but at the very least the company should understand that we do want 4K, and we might be willing to hand over a couple of dollars to upgrade our content.

That said, I still want to see the entire digital movie industry take Apple’s move as a challenge. The new 4K HDR Apple TV launches very soon and the clock is ticking for Google, and for everyone else…

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Ben Schoon

Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

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