Random Thoughts: So is Apple behind Blu-Ray or not?

As I sit here reading a Macworld article about Apple and their rethinking of the DVD as the primary distribution medium for consumers, a small section of the article brushed over the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray format war, and it got me wondering…is Apple really behind Blu-Ray or not?

Here’s why I ask…

Apple is a part of the Blu-Ray Organization. Apple joined with the Blu-Ray group in 2005, with Steve Jobs saying: “Apple is pleased to join the Blu-ray Disc Association board as part of our efforts to drive consumer adoption of HD…Consumers are already creating stunning HD content with Apple’s leading video editing applications like iMovie HD and are anxiously awaiting a way to burn their own high def DVDs.”

Now, here it is the latter part of 2007, and this year’s versions of all of Apple’s video editing and DVD authoring software has been released. Is Blu-Ray support anywhere to be found in these programs?

No.

But HD-DVD is.

A fact Rob Schoeben, Apple’s vice president of applications product marketing, pointed out in the article. When asked about Blu-Ray support he declined to comment on features in future product releases, but did mention that DVD Studio Pro does have support for the HD-DVD format.

So, at this point, I would have to say that IF Apple has chosen a side in the HD Format wars, it would have to be HD-DVD. That’s the only one they support with software, and they have shown support for neither format as far as installed drives in Macs are concerned.

With HD-DVD gaining traction with exclusive content deals including some of my favorite franchises like Transformers and Star Trek, and Wal-Mart having sub $200 HD-DVD players in time for Christmas, I think it’s a safe bet that HD-DVD is on the upswing – in fact, if I had to support one format right now – it would be HD-DVD.

It seems like Apple is too. What do you think? Does it even really matter?

Comments

  1. My guess is, joining the Blu-Ray Organization was no problem for Apple: it doesn’t seem to enforce any real commitment from its members, and it gave Apple some good hitech PR. Also, both standards seem to be real slow at entering the home computer space, thanks to their draconian DRM schemes and their impact on hardware (GPU cards doubling as soundcards, HDMI/HDCP monitors, etc.).

    My guess is Apple and other computer manufacturers will have no choice but provide hybrid HiDef DVD readers: the Mac Pro has two DVD bays (which says a lot), but the iMac, mac Mini and laptops have one only, so…

    Also, it seems Apple and Microsoft are already looking forward to the HD movie download battle, even if it still is a Premium thing.

    (Could Apple offering HD-DVD authoring tools be due to that standard’s interactivity layer being already well defined? Blu-Ray’s one seems to be achieving completion just right now)

  2. I really hope that HD-DVD doesn’t win as it is the inferior format. Shades of the Beta vs VHS war with the inferior format winning there too…

  3. @Phred

    What – and I’m asking because I haven’t really researched it all that much and it’ just easier to ask you – is inferior about HD-DVD?

    I know there is a storage capacity difference, but that’s all that I’m aware of as far as the disks are concerned. From what I understand, HD-DVD are the only ones with hybrid disks, and the video quality (from what I have seen at side-by-side comparisons in stores) is the same (or I can’t tell the difference at least)

    Plus, I read something about HD-DVD being able to allow you to customize visuals of things like changing the color of the cars in Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and so on – that Blu-Ray can’t do.

    am I misinformed about this stuff?

  4. Steve Grenier says:

    Ugh I hope not, Blu Ray is where its really at. Storage alone is more than enough reason to adopt it, but Blu Ray also has a far superior scratch resistant which is more important than you may think considering how much these discs are going to cost when consumers start buying them for personal use. Besides why is everyone suddenly wanting to support HDDVD when the results for the first year of the HD disc sales came back 2:1 for Blu Ray.

    I REALLY hope HD-DVD takes the bullet this time and we aren’t screwed with another worse format like we were with VHS.

    But the porn industry already said they want HD-DVD, so I guess its settled already then isn’t it?

    p.s. go blu ray!

  5. @Steve

    I think what’s making HD-DVD appealing to people is the content. That’s what has me sold on it. I just want HD picture on my HDtv, and I can’t really tell a difference, visually, between the two.

    I don’t expect either format to die out completely, but with Wal-Mart and porn behind HD-DVD, I can’t help but think Sony is going to be one the losing end of things again.

    What I think will happen, though, is that even if HD-DVD wins the movie format war, Blu-Ray will still be around as a great storage medium and game platform.

    Or maybe not.

    Who knows.

    For me, it’s going to be whoever gets the content, and HD-DVD has Transformers, Star Trek, Heroes, and hybrid disks that allow me to play the same shows in my DVD player without buying another disk.

    Because of that – I gotta go HD-DVD.

  6. I think it’s called slow upgrades. Hardware companies love to sell more products. So slowly upgrading is their way of making lots of money with less R&D. so in the short term they will support HD DVD, then in two years you will see more of a push for Blu-Ray.

    This means neither side will have to bring their costs down for two years longer and most consumers will buy both. There already are a few highly priced players which play both.

    The companies are thinking “great we don’t have to come out with a dual layer version for another four years”.

    Heck, If they add some bonus material, I might even buy my favorite movie in both versions, and I already own it on VHS and DVD. Wow! I’ll have 4 copies of the same movie. What a great deal.

  7. Another quick thought.

    Maybe Apple is supporting neither format. I believe Apple is pushing movie downloads. They probably hope both formats fail so people just start downloading all their movies.

    I think already a lot of tech savy people are getting the majority of their movies from the internet rather than from blockbuster.

  8. Blu-Ray has “superior scratch resistance” because it needs that far more than HD-DVD: the format’s physical tolerances are more critical. Actually, the only thing it has over HD-DVD is size, and manufacturing price.

  9. Archangel says:

    From current research, Bluray manufacturing only adds five to 10 cents per disk. Not much, I would say.

    As for Wal-Mart and the magical sub-$200 players, well….we’ve been waiting on theses cheap players for awhile now. And it’s humorous watching the goal posts move. It used to be the $500 pricing that was going to win it for HD DVD. And then the $300 pricing. But certainly the $200 pricing now, right? Maybe. Maybe.

    I think movies will ultimately decide the winner — not cheap players alone. And of the top 10 grossing films of this year, Bluray will have 7 of them while HD DVD will have 5. A small difference, but a difference nonetheless.

    As for hybrid disks, it looks like studios are doing all they can to back away from that format — it makes the disks more expensive and they apparently aren’t selling well because of it.

    As for Bluray’s advantages, I agree, “superior scratch resistance” is none too exciting and HD DVD doesn’t require it, for the most part. That and most reviewers agree that the audio and visual quality of HD DVD and Bluray movies are pretty equal — in most cases, they are using the same codecs.

    Still, way too early to decide a winner — but I think that when (and if) Wal-Mart does get these magical $200 HD DVD players, the bluray players will drop down in price as well — sub $300 I imagine. And so long as the studio support stays at it is, Bluray will have a comfy lead in popular titles. Finally, the porn affect is well overblown in this internet age.

  10. @Archangel

    I’m not sure if you’re deliberately being condescending by saying “magical HD DVD” like they don’t exist or never will…but it’s coming off that way (to me, at least).

    Regardless – those “magical hd-dvd players” are here…

    Sub-$200 HD-DVD Players are here: Venturer SHD7000

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