Apple taps Wal-Mart exec to expand int'l iTunes efforts

Apple has hired Kevin Swint to head up the company's growing efforts to distribute television and video entertainment content abroad via the iTunes Store. Swint comes to Apple from Wal-Mart, where he spearheaded the retail giant's now-defunct efforts to distribute music and movies electronically.

While U.S. iTunes shoppers have plenty of digital media to choose from, the dearth of movie and TV content in international version of the online store has long been a sore spot for iTunes users outside the U.S. International versions of the iTunes Store offer television content, but the selection varies dramatically from country to country. Experts say that convoluted international distribution deals with content providers are to blame for the shortage.

Swint's appointment, reported by PaidContent.org, comes only a few weeks after Apple introduced movie rentals to users of the U.S. iTunes Store.

That new service lets users download and view movies over a 24-hour period after they've started watching them, at prices from $2.99 to $4.99 depending on how recent the film was released and whether it's in standard or high-definition quality. Apple has launched iTunes Movie Rentals with the support of all major movie studios.

When he introduced the new rental service during his keynote presentation at Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told the crowd that Apple is "dying" to offer the new service abroad, and said that it would happen later in 2008.

Apple did not return calls seeking comment on Swint's hiring.

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