Does Apple really need to move to Blu-Ray anytime soon?

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There has been some talk over the weekend about why Apple hasn’t yet moved to adding Blu-Ray drives to its computers. Some seem to think that now that the “format war is over” that Apple should be saddling into the Blu-Ray bandwagon (which they originally committed to at the start of the Blu-Ray format) and sticking them on every Mac.

I can’t really understand this way of thinking for 2 reasons.

1) The format war isn’t over.

2) Another disk format really seems to go against Steve Job’s vision of the future.

Let me explain both points, then feel free to call me an idiot.

On the first point, the format war is FAR from over. In fact, it’s kind of like our current political elections here in the US. (keep those emails to yourselves folks, we’re not getting political here, it’s just an example) The current race between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama is very much like the format war between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. The winner between the two doesn’t become the president (or the dominant disk format) it simply earns the nomination from its party to go up against the other party’s representative.

In the case of the format wars, I’m talking about DVD being the other party. Now that Hi-Def nominees have been reduced to one candidate its time for the actual format war to begin.

DVD and Blu-Ray have a long battle ahead of them, and really, what we’re talking about now is whether Blu-Ray will have time to take over the Disk market before digital downloads eliminate them both. Frankly, with upscaling DVD players these days, I have a very hard time justifying the extra cost for a Blu-Ray disk. I have a 52 inch HDtv with 1080i, and I just can’t see that much of a difference. I know some people can, but I can’t – and I have no reason to upgrade at this time.

Sure, Blu-Ray is a great storage medium for professionals to keep large amount of data on, but you can already buy a Blu-Ray drive for your Mac Pro (or almost any Mac for that matter) right here. Apple making the move to install those from the factory for you would be a good move, I guess, but hardly a big deal. The real deal will be if Apple ever installs Blu-Ray drives into notebooks – which I seriously doubt they will in the near future…if ever.

Steve Jobs has a vision for the future. It’s called the Macbook Air. Sure, the current model is kind of slow, and seems to freak out TSA, but rest assured, that Mac is what Jobs would like to see for all notebooks in the future. No optical drive, minimal ports, and 90% of the data coming in over wi-fi. The Macbook Air, to me anyway, seems to be almost a mission statement from Apple that the future doesn’t have an optical drive in it.

What would be the reason for a Blu-Ray drive on a Macbook or Macbook Pro? One would be to watch movies. Well, we all know that Apple would rather you get your movies from iTunes. Whether we ultimately will or not is another article entirely, but that’s what they’d like to see. As long as DVD is outselling Blu-Ray so heavily there is no reason to fear anti-trust litigation, and Apple can pursue the digital download future it wants.

Macbook Pros are a little different. That same professional that is wanting a Blu-Ray drive for storage on a Mac Pro, may also want it for when he or she is out in the field. That’s a good reason for an installed Blu-Ray drive right? Well, sure it is – but, again, looking at the Macbook Air, Apple has no problem with you carrying around an external drive if you absolutely have to have an optical disk.

Then there’s the disk vs. hard drive argument. Why would a creative professional bother carry around 50gb Blu-Ray disks when he or she can carry around a 500 GB portable external drive for (way) less money than the cost of a current Blu-Ray drive?

It’s not that I think a Blu-Ray drive in a Mac is a bad idea. I don’t have anything against it. It just doesn’t look like Apple is in a hurry to head that way, and when you think about it, it’s not really that hard to see why.

At least, that’s what I think. What about you?

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Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

19 thoughts on “Does Apple really need to move to Blu-Ray anytime soon?

  1. hmm… nice article..

    I don’t think it should be considered a format war between DVD and Blu-ray..

    My reason is that not everyone can afford a blu-ray disc player now and the technology is still being improve as months or years past so buying a player now will be a waste of money.

    DVD will still be around for years! Why? it will be the cheapest high def media in the market in the future. It will replace the VCD format that frankly is still alive and the cheapest media that available now compared to DVD. well not everyone can still afford a original DVD…

    I don’t think that DVD Vs. Blu-Ray media will be really something to focus on..

    As most blu-ray players can actually play DVD movies in upscale mode I guess.

    I will agree that Blu-rays competition would be the internet.

    For me I’m just glad the the so-called “format war is over”. People can now actually save money on buying one next generation format player instead of buying two players..

    But this is just me..

  2. The people that want Apple to put BR in their machines is simply because they want one. It all comes back to people’s “fantasy machine”. They think about what would be awesome to have without any regard for the current market situation or what makes sense as a business. We’re not going to see BR in any Mac until it is profitable to do so. As much as the BR fans would hate to admit it, BR is a still a niche right now.

  3. See Michael, this is you at your best and eventually Apple Gazette at its best. this is what makes Apple Gazette unique and this is what keeps me attached to it.

    Please Michael, increase these types of posts.

  4. Apple’s ‘super’ drives always seem to the the first thing to go in Apple laptops, and have seemed to get worse each year. Dropping them seems a good idea.

    I would guess that Blu-Ray will come as standard in the Pro desktops sometime soon.

  5. I heard that after the
    they’ll also going to introduce us about the HVD… so I think Blu-ray’s faith will somehow be just like of the HD-DVD….
    Another format war? 🙁

  6. Well blu-ray or whatever the next gen in the market would be.. they will surely overtake the old format in the future. Time will dictate what would be better in the future.

    It was the same with comparing VCD and DVD.. When DVD came out it had a competitor too aside from VCD and it the end they had a “one” next gen format which became the DVD. It was priced almost the same as the blu-ray drives now but as the years past the prices drops and a new format emerge which was HD-DVD and Blu-ray.

    The problem with Blu-ray is that if you really want to get a very good video quality you need to have a HDTV (well as of now not everyone can afford that) with atleast a 720p resolution and HDMi ports aside from a blu-ray player. It will be useless to have the next gen format if your still using a CRT TV..

    As for quality theres no big difference between a upscale DVD and Blu-ray movie with 720P resolution. I think it will be noticeable when it comes to bigger tv where a 1080i/p will be better.

    I also like the article but I just want to share my two cents. I’m still not considering it a format war. for me its like your comparing it with the old PS2 and the new PS3.

    As I have said that just me.

  7. Yikes. You must have tried out a very bad Blu-Ray player if you can’t tell the difference between upscaled DVD and Blu-Ray. Either that or your TV stinks. It is night and day for video, and the sound quality difference is even more apparent.

  8. Actually, the way people generally think about a format war, it IS over. The fork has been stuck in HD DVD. If “buy-a-disk-and-stick-it-in-your-player” is supplanted by other technology is another matter.

    For most users, and for the foreseeable future, watching movies on your computer is a trivial use. What people are concerned about is storage. BD-R has it all over DVD-R in capacity, so there’s your “win.”

  9. ?????? Disc format war is certainly over!!! Didn’t all the big box retailers say they weren’t carrying HD-DVD anymore, as well as most of the movie studios? And then Toshiba threw in the towel. So I’m not sure what your point is? DVD technology is outdated. Video technology is being revolutionized with HiDef, from over-the-air broadcast to discs and downloads. No one is going to put up with standard definition DVDs in their computers, or on their HDTVs.

    It’s a little bit absurd to expect that a physical delivery medium will be so quick to disappear. We have a long way to go with bandwidth and security over the web to be able to distribute, sell, share our videos with each other… not to mention that there is an awful lot of compression going on with digital files, both video and audio-wise. Sure Apple and a few others are delivering, but how about the independents? Your wedding video? Your kid’s school play? Know one is going to want to keep this on a hard drive alone. Seeing as you can only fit 30min of HD content on DVDs, it’s pretty much limited as a delivery medium.

    BRD has definitely won and DVD is on the way out. As soon as blu-ray disc prices drop we are going to be replacing our CD and DVD coasters with BRD coasters.

  10. @Alex and The Wizard

    Thanks guys.


    I do think it should be a format war, mainly because they are going for the same dollars from the consumer. Sure, not as many people can afford Blu-Ray players and disks, but that’s a problem with Blu-Ray’s pricing, not something that I think keeps the two formats from being competition. HD-DVD players were vastly cheaper than Blu-Ray players there at the end, but it was a still a format war between the two.

    If Blu-Ray can’t gain head, and eventually overtake DVD, then they’ll never been anything more than a “collector’s format” – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but Sony wants more than that out of Blu-Ray.


    I think I just have a really good upscaling DVD player. I can say that in my non-upscaling DVD player I can see a big difference. When I compare a Blu-Ray disk to an AppleTV SD download I can see a huge difference too, but when I pop in a DVD into the upscaling player the difference is still there, but not significant enough to justify the higher price point to me – if the prices are ever equal, my opinion on which one to purchase would change.

    I should point out that I don’t have a surround sound system, so I don’t hear a big change in the audio, but I’m sure I would if I went to the expense of having a 5.1 system. So on that point, I can’t really judge, but I would expect Blu-Ray to be a clear winner in quality there.


    Not really, no. BD-R may have a much higher storage capacity over DVD-R, but until BD-R becomes the standard (which DVD-R is now) then there is no “win” for BD-R.

    HD-DVD had “it all over” Blu-Ray in web features, player pricing, and compatibility (combo disks) – but that didn’t make them the winner.

  11. @arajara

    Toshiba is no longer producing HD-DVDs. That has nothing to do with DVDs. DVD is not going anywhere anytime soon. Until Blu-Ray disks have replaced DVDs in stores the way DVDs replaced VHS tapes, the format war is not over.

  12. When i bought my Macbook pro i was not happy that i wasnt getting blu-ray because The format war is supposedly over.
    ..the more i think of it.. the more i want HD-DVD and i am hoping for another format war.

    Im not happy with Blu-Ray.. I cant explain why, but im not…

    this is all i can say.
    So yeah

  13. I see the future of physical content delivery being write-once ready only flash drives. Imaging purchasing HD movies that come on small flash drives: Not spinning optical disc bottleneck (they can only spin so fast). Improved battery performance for portables. Smaller physical dimensions. No storage limitations (flash storage sizes are rapidly growing).

  14. shabbis – I can see a day in the not too distant future when software will be delivered by one of two methods – download or flash drive. Those drives get cheaper by the day. Macbook Air is probably the beginning for companies to start thinking of different ways to deliver their product.

    As far as BR-D goes – I made my choice early in the “war”. I chose HD DVD for the added features (I am a movie fan and do watch / use those features), and the better next gen sound support (I have a very expensive Home Theatre with a top of the line surround sound system that delivers Dolby TrueHD 7.1 which BR did not until recently support, and now only supports on very few discs). Sony paid Warner Brothers to turn their backs on HD DVD, thus killing the product. Sony wins, the public losses with another inferior Sony product as the heir apparent. My only hope is that the next great thing is around the corner ready to knock Sony on their ass.

    I have an HD DVD Player which does an incredible job of upscaling DVDs, I will continue to use it for that purpose. I also have a moderately sized HD DVD Library – about 20 discs. The discs will continue to play, the player will continue to upscale – I am happy for now.

    I doubt I will ever buy a Blu-ray machine – unless they get below my arbitrary magical “must have” purchase price of $150. For me, it was worth it to pay $300 for an HD DVD Player to get – better video, better sound, better functions (the GPS & Tech Stats on MIAMI VICE, the robot trackers and GPS on TRANSFORMERS, the In Movie Experience on BATMAN BEGINS and THE MATRIX TRILOGY). Blu-ray at this point ONLY delivers with better video on most discs – no support for next gen audio across all discs, and no support for next gen features across all discs. BR is JUST better looking DVD at this point, and that is NOT worth more money to me. When they finally get to the point of supplying what HD DVD supplied from the start, then I’ll consider spending $300 for a player and an extra $10 per disc. Until then, I hope something . . . anything . . . comes out that can beat Sony and Blu-ray into the ground!

  15. 52″ doesn’t mean it’s Full-HD. A lot of flat-screen TVs are advertised as hi-def or something like that. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s 1900 x 1080, Full-HD.

    If you spend the money on a FULL-HD TV…
    FULL 1920 x 1080p, not 720 or one of those plasma things that does 768… you’ll get digital HD cable and eventually you’ll want to get a FULL-HD player. Trust me, you WILL!

    Seriously, watch HD sports (NHL or NFL) and the Discovery Channel. They look amazing!

    I saw a friend’s new 52″ Sony Bravia XBR5 HDTV last night. He played the Bourne Supremecy in HD DVD movie on it. WOW! I’d watched the same movie as an upscaled DVD on my 40″ Sony Bravia XBR3. NO comparison. The HD version was incredible.

    As Apple puts more 1080 screens in their machines AND the fact that SO much video production is done with Macs, it stands to reason that they’ll put Blu-ray players/burners in the PRO machines.

    I’d love a Blu-ray drive in my MacBook Pro. I drive my HDTV with it to look at photos it’s pretty amazing.

  16. From a practical point of view, there is no DVD versus Blu-Ray war : a quick visit to the local computer store reveals that the cheapest Blu-Ray player costs $200, compared to $30 for a DVD burner. Unless you use your Mac as a glorified movie player, that’s not even a contest.

    Next point of contention, the delivery mechanism : try as they might, software developers have a long way to go before they can sell us a 50 GB program, the only exception being Final Cut Studio 2. The Leopard DVD weighs in at 7 GB and it takes as long as 20 minutes to start the installation process. Imagine how long we’ll have to wait when Blu-Ray becomes the norm…

    If Steve Jobs sees a future full of Macbook Air, I suggest he consults an optometrist at once. Here again, at the computer store, a Macbook Air costs more ($1800) but provides less than an ordinary Macbook ($1000). It’s nice to tout the “fits in a manila envelope” feature but sooner or later, proud owners will realize that they’ve been had. I mean, are we supposed to carry around an external DVD players along with our notebooks ? In case we don’t, does Steve Jobs really think that a perfect stranger would grant us access to their computer just so that we may use a DVD ? Where’s the security in that ?

    In an ideal world, we all eschew disks and get all our files directly from the internet. Question : what happens the day something wreaks havoc on the net (a worm, a virus, an earthquake, etc.) ? Content providers themselves can’t be trusted : they erase information from their servers whenever they see fit. What guarantee do we have that a song, a program, a manual or an editorial will still be available three years from now ? Most of the time, finding an old piece of information on the web is difficult, to say the least.

    Now, the disk vs hard drive debate : forums are filled with people complaining about the fact that external hard drives are unreliable. They work well for months then they give up the ghost, destroying precious data. They may be less expensive than Blu-Ray disks but I wouldn’t trust them to preserve my family memories.

    Last point : Steve Jobs vision of the future. What is that ? I buy computer equipments to fulfill my needs, not to please that guy. It’s my hard earned cash and if Jobs comes up with a silly idea, I’ll leave it to others to jump on his bandwagon.

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