Sony officials have announced that the company is to begin allowing PSP movie UMDs to be rented in Japan, in an attempt to expand the uses for the handheld console. Japanese consumers will be able to rent the movies from popular retail chain GEO, which has fifty stores throughout Japan, from July 16th.
This is the first time that the proprietary UMD format, which is so far compatible only with the PSP, has been made available for rent in the more tightly restricted Japan, and is further proof of the increasing importance of non-game related applications for the PSP.
Sony's announcement follows the recent news
that certain UMD movie titles, such as Resident Evil: Apocalypse and House of Flying Daggers have apparently sold through over 100,000 copies in North America since their release in April, according to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
With many film studios and DVD publishers becoming more enthusiastic about Sony's UMD format compared to the Warner Bros. sponsored mini-DVD format, the use of the PSP as a portable movie player has exceeded many initial expectations. However, in Japan, the UMD interest goes hand-in-hand with a slowly emerging PSP software market, where, despite substantial hardware sales, actual game software rarely manages to puncture the all-formats sales top ten.