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I, Cringely - The Survival of the Nerdiest with Robert X. Cringely
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The Pulpit
Pulpit Comments
March 14, 2008 -- Blu-ray Blues
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I thought the distribution problems would be solved by Apple TVs doing peer-to-peer streaming?

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_20070216_001673.html

I keep hoping peer-to-peer will win over big datacenters some day, but that's just me. :-)

Erich | Mar 14, 2008 | 2:28PM

So my advice to Robert X. Cringely is simple: hurry, and get season 2 of NerdTV out.

On a related note: A pastor was well known for his long sermons. A man at the back of the church walked out during the message one Sunday and returned to his seat some time later. The pastor asked where he had gone. "To get my hair cut" was his reply. The pastor responded, "Why didn't you get your haircut before the service?". "I didn't need a haircut then", he replied.

Darryl | Mar 14, 2008 | 2:38PM

There is native support on Leopard for reading and burning data BD discs.

It was confirmed a couple of months ago on the Macbidouille/Hardmac site: http://www.hardmac.com/news/2007-12-05/ .

Of course, you still can't watch BD movies with DVD Player but almost everything needed is there waiting for an order from Jobs.

Edward | Mar 14, 2008 | 2:49PM

Just today I read about P4P and how that makes significant improvements on network performance. Add to that ISPs support - particularly Verizon, makes you realize that it would be an ideal delivery mechanism for iTunes HD.

If they can also prioritize early fragments as well, it could be used for streaming HD content. And that makes iTV a very attractive proposition.

Julian | Mar 14, 2008 | 2:59PM

Apple could always put blu-Ray burning capabilities into their software to work with external blu-ray burners. They could ship their own burner or not but that would keep people on their platform and the number of end users buying external hardware would pose far less threat to their download business.

rschwarz | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:00PM

Sorry, Robert, I think you're way off. Blu-Ray discs use the very same AVC compression algorithm as Apple does in the iTunes store, yet most Blu-Ray movies at 1080p end up being 40 (or more) gigabytes in size! Why is that, when your extrapolation from Apple's 1080p trailers yields only 8 gigabytes? Because the bitrates Apple is using are *vastly* lower than that of a Blu-Ray movie. This means that even if Apple *does* jump up to 1080p, it'll still have a massive quality gap between itself and Blu-Ray.

In my opinion, digital downloads aren't about quality at this point. They're about *convenience*. Blu-Ray is going to offer far superior quality for years to come, until a massive upgrade in broadband infrastructure hits, or a revolutionary new compression algorithm emerges.

Thus, digital downloads aren't even competing against Blu-Ray, they are competing against the cable companies and their "On-Demand" functionality. In this war, Apple is already offering a better product in many ways. Their quality (even at 720p) is significantly better than most On-Demand offerings, which are compressed to the point of barely being passable as "high definition" and the Apple TV's user interface is vastly superior to anything the cable companies can offer.

Why is the Apple TV not catching fire then? In my opinion, its got one giant problem: a poor business model. People simply aren't going to pay very much money for a set-top box thats essentially giving them On-Demand movie rentals when they've already got such a box for free from their cable provider. In addition, people will balk at spending $4.99-$5.99 for a high definition rental every time they want to watch a movie.

In my opinion, Apple needs to attack this problem from several different directions. First, they go after Netflix and Blockbuster on their own turf: subscription rentals. Give the box away, and require a one-year commitment of a $15/month membership. Provide use a Netflix-like "rental queue" which will pre-download three movies at a time to your Apple TV so that there's no waiting. Second, offer a high-end version of the Apple TV with a built-in Blu-Ray player for a cost (say, $199), still with a one-year commitment.

This two-pronged approach will allow them to compete on a level playing field on *both* fronts (convenience and quality).

Jonathan | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:03PM

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

Todd | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:05PM
Todd | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:06PM

"There is nothing new under the Sun."
- Ecclesiastes

V-O-R | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:08PM

I'm pretty sure that Grace Hopper never intended to claim that she invented the term "bug". That is a misunderstanding imposed by others.

What she actually said was the she had found the "first genuine computer bug," meaning the first "bug" that was actually an insect.

Jonathan Tappan | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:13PM

Techies seem to have forgotten that the majority of web users are on a DSL connection with

But the bigger problem still is consumer apathy for HD. There just isn't a quantum leap between DVDs and Blu Ray. A lot of users can't even visually recognize the difference between 480 and 1080 unless they're side by side. How many Blu Ray discs have actually been sold? I'm sure it's far under a million. I'm estimating it'll be 5 years before Blu Ray sells as many discs per year as DVD.

I highly recommend
http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2007/12/04/why-low-def-is-the-new-hd/

Ephilei | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:18PM

Apparently comments don't like pointy brackets.

Ephilei | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:21PM

If you look at the actual logbook in the Smithsonian: http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/object.cfm?key=35&objkey=30

You can see that the entry reads "First actual case of bug being found." That pretty clearly implies the term was already in use. History was made because it was the first time they actually found the bug.

Chris | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:23PM

Bob,

Most of the graphics cards Apple is shipping (by ATI, not Integrated Intel stuff) can already do hardware h.264 decode. Apple just has not taken advantage of it in Quicktime Player (why nobody knows)

With the hardware assist 1080p decode should work fine.

Doug | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:26PM

I'm not sure how anyone anywhere thinks downloadable content from the Internet can compare with BluRay discs for movie content. From the spec for BluRay movies, BD-ROM movies will require a 54Mbps data transfer rate - I don't know anyone anywhere in North America who can get an effective download rate that high in the home market, for that matter the vast majority of people can't even get 10% that rate sustained. That means completely saturating your Internet connection for 24 hours or more to get ONE movie.

I don't know about you - but in my world - my ISP would have more than a conniption if I did that more than once a month - and even that isn't very convenient - so even if they have "tons of data store local to their points of presence" - they just don't have the speed over the last mile and won't for at least 10 years if not longer. For that matter I've lived in my neighbourhood for 6 years and my Internet connection (5Mbps DSL) is and has remained the same and the fastest available for myself and 500 other people in this tract that entire 6 years - I see no reason to expect the next 6 to 10 years to yield a 10x or more improvement in speed.

I rent my BR movies from NetFlix. I rent my BR movies from a corner store here that happens to carry most of the new releases. I buy one or two new BR movies every week. The internet can not compete on 1080p and won't for many many years. It can barely compete on 720p using way more compression than BR discs yielding more macroblocking, significant wait times, etc - putting it square against "HD On demand" from cable companies (which frankly has awful picture quality). The only place Internet based HD content is going to compete is in the "competing for network TV viewers market" (time and placeshifting and making ad-free TV series content available - things you only watch once) - it's not even going to touch the HD movie industry in the next decade. Anyone who thinks it is isn't looking at the raw numbers properly.

Chris | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:26PM

One of the reasons Apple hasn't put a Blu-ray drive in their computers is that until very recently a sufficiently thin slot-loading drive hasn't been available. In addition, Blu-ray has DRM requirements which have been said to be difficult for Apple to philosophically support in OSX. Coupled with the fact that the Blu-ray Disc business model works against the iTunes business model, it's not surprising that Steve hasn't launched native Blu-ray support.

That said, it's likely the market is big enough for both, and with the current momentum propelling Blu-ray due to the end of the format war, the PS3's recent surge, the huge increase in HD TV sales, etc., it's likely that the economics will make it increasingly difficult for Steve to ignore this market for much longer.

Bill Sheppard | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:33PM

I doubt very many people are going to be jumping on the blu-ray band wagon anytime soon. Regular DVD's are "good enough" for the time being, and once itunes moves to HD, why would anyone buy a player?

It seems to me, a web site that would allow wedding videographers to store their HD content. Wait, then it would be just like Youtube...

Steve Dean | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:40PM

I think Jonathan's got it.

Give the box away, and require a one-year commitment of a $15/month membership. Provide use a Netflix-like "rental queue" which will pre-download three movies at a time to your Apple TV so that there's no waiting. Second, offer a high-end version of the Apple TV with a built-in Blu-Ray player for a cost (say, $199), still with a one-year commitment.

TWC, AT&T and WOW are all trying to break down the door to sell me digital services. There's a well-stocked Blockbuster 6000 feet from my house, and the public library has been expanding its DVD shelf every time I visit. At this point there is no reason for me to even consider Apple TV - unless they adopted that model. Having been burned on the Cude (and then watching my colleagues get burned on their iPhones) I am reluctant as a consumer to consider Apple as a hardware vendor. But adopting the cable and cellular industry model is something I can easily live with, and be pretty happy about it, too.

GuyFromOhio | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:40PM

On the third planet of an insignificant sun, hard drive capacity had been getting larger and larger. Whenever somebody worked out how to increase capacity people just bought them for their computers and used the new space without thinking any more about it.

For some reason optical drives were different. Once upon a time there were CD drives and someone worked out how to increase their capacity. However, instead of just calling them higher capacity CD drives they decided to call them DVD drives even though they could still read the original CDs.

Then someone worked out how to make even higher capacity DVD drives. Not wishing to be considered boring by all the mayfly minds in marketing they did not want to call them "higher capacity DVD drives" so they decided to have a "format war" to choose a new name.

Soon after the end of the format war the really advanced aliens landed and, after checking galactic law stored on their very very high capacity CD drives, decided that human beings did not meet all the proper requirements for an intelligent species so they blew up the Earth's Sun to clean-up the neighbourhood. Stupid human beings!

Malcolm Powell | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:41PM

The OED online edition shows 1889 as the earliest reference.

b. A defect or fault in a machine, plan, or the like. orig. U.S.

1889 Pall Mall Gaz. 11 Mar. 1/1 Mr. Edison, I was informed, had been up the two previous nights discovering ‘a bug’ in his phonographan expression for solving a difficulty, and implying that some imaginary insect has secreted itself inside and is causing all the trouble. 1935 Jrnl. R. Aeronaut. Soc. XXXIX. 43 Casting, forging and riveting are processes hundreds of years old, and, to use an Americanism, ‘have the bugs ironed out of them’. 1956 ‘N. SHUTE’ Beyond Black Stump v. 138 They worked..until the rig had settled down and all the bugs had been ironed out. 1958 Engineering 14 Mar. 336/2 The seven-and-a-half years..was not an excessive time to..get the ‘bugs’ out of a new system of that kind.

Don Bosman | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:46PM

Apple has built a rep of "I like Mac's because they just work"

You won't see a BR drive in Macs until all the stars are aligned..."If it has a BR drive, I expect it to play BR content and burn BR content.

I think Bob is off on the BR vs. download scenerio...BR is for the high-end, Home Theater types. For mobile video and the average consumer, 720p will be the standard for a decade or so.

Now, an Apple TV unit with TiVo capability and BR drive, that could be the next hot box to buy.

Greg Pink | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:47PM

Hey, where's JIM?

Anonymous (for obvious reasons) | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:53PM

I'll add another possible reason.

Does anyone even make a Blu-ray drive that will fit in a MacBook pro? Or the MacBook, iMac or Mac Mini for that matter?

Sure the Mac Pro works, but why design the DRM layers for Leopard required for AACS if it only works in one Mac.

As for authoring Blu-ray dics in Final Cut, I thought this was added some time ago.

Ben Drawbaugh | Mar 14, 2008 | 3:56PM

The computer bug question was a million dollar question on the show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire".



I don't remember the exact phrasing of the question, but the answer was "moth". The guy won a million dollars when he got it right.



I hope he doesn't have to give the money back.

JB | Mar 14, 2008 | 4:01PM

"People claiming to be familiar with the matter had said that Sony is prepared to deliver Blu-ray Combo Drives capable of reading and writing CD media, but not writing Blu-ray DVD media. Apple, however, is said to have only expressed interest in a SuperDrive variant that could also write Blu-ray discs."

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/08/03/07/sony_in_blu_ray_talks_with_apple_microsoft.html

Allerbe | Mar 14, 2008 | 4:02PM

That was not Grace's story. The entire staff already knew the term "bug," of course. The story is noteworthy because the log book entry said "First actual case of a bug being found," as in, it's not an abstraction this time.

Fernando | Mar 14, 2008 | 4:08PM

All it takes to get Apple off its duff is for Dell to announce availability of BluRay on Dimensions. Apple hates to be a follower, and would likely rush to beat Dell to market.

David B. | Mar 14, 2008 | 4:11PM

If Apple starts making decisions on what would be best for iTunes before doing what is best for Apple products, it could find itself in the same hole that sucked down Sony.

When Sony Electronics introduced the MiniDisc, it became mired in issues from Sony Music. The entertainment side of Sony demanded DRM solutions in place so people would not be able to easily copy music. The same problems stymied Sony's effort to release an mp3 player. This is one of the reasons the MiniDisc never took off and why the iPod lacking many of those controls was able to take the lead in the mp3 player market.

Could Dell or HP use this gaping hole as a way to go where Apple fails to deliver?

Wally Glenn | Mar 14, 2008 | 4:22PM

As far as I can tell, though it can output to 1080p, the current Apple TV can only decode up to 720p video streams. So in order for Apple to start distributing 1080p video, Apple TV customers would need a new box. I'm sure they'd be pleased. Meanwhile, the PS3 and XBox 360 can play 1080p sources.

Also, Bluray is already an (expensive!) option on Dell laptops.

So maybe Apple is just behind the curve on hi-def. Really it wouldn't surprise me. They excel at marketing and industrial design. The underlying tech is rarely cutting edge. *cough* 1 button mouse *cough*

Nick | Mar 14, 2008 | 4:25PM

Dear Mr. Cringely: The answer as to why Apple hasn't deployed Blue-ray drives in its computers isn't nearly so Machiavellian as you suppose. The simple reason is that the drives cost too much and, therefore, installing them would too greatly increase the costs of Macs or of any computer that adopts Blue-ray as its standard optical drive. Every computer that installs Blue-ray today does so by either dramatically increasing price, dramatically cutting back on other components, or some combination of the two. Blue-ray drive will appear in Macs as their cost decrease, but they will first appear in the professional line of MacPros; then in the high-end consumer Macs, probably as BTO option, and finally, when the price of Blue-ray falls sufficiently, in the low-end consumer Macs. Under Steve Jobs, Apple, as you know, has never sacrificed the overall quality and balance in the design of its computers to engage in specious product differentiation, and it won't do so now with Blue-ray drives.

Attempting to forestall the introduction of the Blue-ray drives is neither necessary to Apple's ambitions to have HD content distributed through iTunes and used on Macs, nor is possible for Apple to delay the introduction of Blue-ray drives on Macs, because, once the costs of Blue-ray drives have dropped, the other Windows OEMs will rapidly adopt Blue-ray without sacrificing either quality or increasing price. In that circumstances, Macs would have to adopt Blue-ray drives in response, or be at a competitive disadvantage to other computers with respect to their optical drives. The costs of Blue-ray drives is what retards their deployment on Macs, not some misguided strategy to boost sales of HD content at the iTunes Store.

Sincerely,
Orlando Smith

Orlando Smith | Mar 14, 2008 | 4:36PM

This article is total trash. The author should do a tiny bit of research before spouting off or if he did said research, then share it with his readers. Apple doesn't offer Blu-Ray drives for many reasons, but two really good ones are: 1) they suck up too much power and 2) they are too big to put into a laptop.

Funnily enough these are the reasons Dell doesn't offer them right now also. The drives are getting better and cheaper all the time and when they get cheap enough and efficient enough to be feasible Apple will use them. As is the case with most technology like this, Apple will likely be among the first to put them in, not the last as this article tries to imply.

Jeremy | Mar 14, 2008 | 4:44PM

Lots of good comments here! I also don't think HD downloads, at least not for quite awhile, can even touch BD discs. Heck, they can't even really touch DVDs. How many movies you download from iTunes also have extra features, commentary tracks, extra or deleted scenes, etc.? You can argue that that's why you pay the premium of a physical disc, but at this point the two are completely separate.

This goes to the BD in a Mac scenario - there's no way Jobs can try and skip discs altogether for a download model; the download model only offers a discount on ONE facet of the disc model. You totally have to have and support both.

Plus, as far as I know, physical discs are the only way I can take my movie to a friend's house and watch it there. Maybe I could take pack up and take an AppleTV (and hook it up at their house?)? Maybe I could re-stream it at their house (if they have the connection?). No, it's much easier to take that little portable disc on over.

Nice info about the wedding business - I'd never thought about it but it makes total sense! Although, I don't know if I'd want to see Uncle Frank in HD! :-)

Pete | Mar 14, 2008 | 4:47PM

The Grace Hopper bug was labeled in the logbook "First *actual* case of bug being found," showing that it was intended as a joking reference to an existing term. She didn't claim to be inventing a new term.

Eric Fischer | Mar 14, 2008 | 4:52PM

Jeremy should likewise do some research. As I stated above, Dell does offer Bluray in it's laptops. I just ordered an XPS 1530 last week and a slot-loading Bluray player was an option. It was $500 which is probably the limiting factor for everyone. If it was $200 I would have gone for it because the 1530 has HDMI output. Which is not another feature that is not an option on Macbooks. (Yes I know you can do DVI to HDMI. But that does not include audio, so please save your flame)

I'm amazed at the assumption on this thread that Apple is at the head of the tech adoption curve.

Nick | Mar 14, 2008 | 4:54PM

Cringely is off on a tangent once again. why do people read this guy? i guess he wrote something good once upon a time.

he managed to write a long piece without ever mentioning the magic term "DRM," which is the central issue for BluRay in Macs, not a tangent like wedding videos. AACS and HDCP. both require built-in user restraints in the OS, not just more stuff on a chip or a more complicated app like the current iTunes DRM mechanisms. Apple so far has refused to allow such invasive DRM in the OS, and me and many other users never want to see it on our computers. will not buy a computer that includes it.

instead Apple so far as 'quarantined' HDCP to the AppleTV only, which makes sense. adding a BluRay player to ATV would be a logical extension we may see this year.

Authoring BluRay video without the DRM should be possible on a Mac with the right software - data only BluRay burners are available now. but will they play back video on a BluRay player? i dunno. that would have been useful info for Cringely to explore.

funny thing is, he got one idea half-right last year. he suggested AppleTV's could be used as a peer-to-peer network to download hi-def files from iTunes to solve the bandwith limit issue for internet video. Well, Apple didn't do that, but Vudu did, and as a result has the best quality web video available today.

better luck next time, I.

John E | Mar 14, 2008 | 5:41PM

Cringely is off on a tangent once again. why do people read this guy? i guess he wrote something good once upon a time.

he managed to write a long piece without ever mentioning the magic term "DRM," which is the central issue for BluRay in Macs, not a tangent like wedding videos. AACS and HDCP. both require built-in user restraints in the OS, not just more stuff on a chip or a more complicated app like the current iTunes DRM mechanisms. Apple so far has refused to allow such invasive DRM in the OS, and me and many other users never want to see it on our computers. will not buy a computer that includes it.

instead Apple so far as 'quarantined' HDCP to the AppleTV only, which makes sense. adding a BluRay player to ATV would be a logical extension we may see this year.

Authoring BluRay video without the DRM should be possible on a Mac with the right software - data only BluRay burners are available now. but will they play back video on a BluRay player? i dunno. that would have been useful info for Cringely to explore.

funny thing is, he got one idea half-right last year. he suggested AppleTV's could be used as a peer-to-peer network to download hi-def files from iTunes to solve the bandwith limit issue for internet video. Well, Apple didn't do that, but Vudu did, and as a result has the best quality web video available today.

better luck next time, I.

John E | Mar 14, 2008 | 5:41PM

Cringely is off on a tangent once again. why do people read this guy? i guess he wrote something good once upon a time.

he managed to write a long piece without ever mentioning the magic term "DRM," which is the central issue for BluRay in Macs, not a tangent like wedding videos. AACS and HDCP. both require built-in user restraints in the OS, not just more stuff on a chip or a more complicated app like the current iTunes DRM mechanisms. Apple so far has refused to allow such invasive DRM in the OS, and me and many other users never want to see it on our computers. will not buy a computer that includes it.

instead Apple so far as 'quarantined' HDCP to the AppleTV only, which makes sense. adding a BluRay player to ATV would be a logical extension we may see this year.

Authoring BluRay video without the DRM should be possible on a Mac with the right software - data only BluRay burners are available now. but will they play back video on a BluRay player? i dunno. that would have been useful info for Cringely to explore.

funny thing is, he got one idea half-right last year. he suggested AppleTV's could be used as a peer-to-peer network to download hi-def files from iTunes to solve the bandwith limit issue for internet video. Well, Apple didn't do that, but Vudu did, and as a result has the best quality web video available today.

better luck next time, I.

John E | Mar 14, 2008 | 5:45PM

ooops! very sorry. i got kicked back thrice.

John E | Mar 14, 2008 | 5:48PM

I recently heard the "bug" term started with card controlled Looms, in the 1800's.


Eric Harding | Mar 14, 2008 | 6:02PM

Bob - It's curious that Apple swapped all the Sony Bravias out of their Apple TV showroom areas at just about the time that Blu-Ray won.

Coincidence? Or is it because a Bravia with a PS3 is a more compelling solution than a Bravia with an Apple TV?

As I see it Steve had inadvertently highlighted one of his own product weaknesses with the Bravia/ATV combo and did the switcheroo to cover up his own still glaring weakness in the "Digital Home". And he can either make the Apple TV part of the combo better than a PS3 (and that isn't going to happen with online HD movies for a looong time) by adding a Blu-Ray (which will raise the ATV's SLP by $300-400 so not going to happen soon) or he can launch an intelligent Apple LCD TV with built in video camera sometime this year. That's where my money is.

Brian | Mar 14, 2008 | 6:25PM

Well that was informative - NOT. Apple's pro software has been compatible with Blu-ray and HD-DVD for well over a year. Maybe you need a fact checker to check your work?

Eric | Mar 14, 2008 | 7:01PM

your whole text is based on the fact that 1080p is really important, when in fact, it is not. the vast majority of people do not have anything more than a 720p tv, and the vast majority cannot either see the differences between 720 and 1080 (according to tests. just google it).

maybe apple is holding of blu-ray because it wasnt really setteld up until a month ago, and it takes more than that to push out hardware changes.. especially with apples non-standard way of doing updates :)

jonas | Mar 14, 2008 | 7:40PM

"it" being the hd format war.

jonas | Mar 14, 2008 | 7:42PM

Hey! I'm one of those "Wedding Video" guys - though in my case it's video for market research. I'm not longing to move my business to HD. HD is not a good excuse to hike up prices - it's just a good excuse to make me spend more money on stuff I don't need.

Hiking up prices for something nobody's asking for. That's a plan!

tony Patti | Mar 14, 2008 | 7:42PM

I agree with Toni Patti. You are reaching just a little for that Blu-Ray wedding video market. I would wager that 90% of Americans would rather not seem themselves in HD.

Filmflam | Mar 14, 2008 | 8:14PM

Hi Bob, please consider this.

Apple specializes in software, a given. As I see it the issue is both hardware and software based.

Bear with me please.

How can blu-ray delivery via iTunes be efficient unless we have realtime data transfer over the bandwidth and inside the average PC?

First point, the best chip makers haven't overcome today's bottleneck caused by heat from copper circuits in the quantum field. Once the copper bottleneck is overcome, the costs come down exponentially, servers etc.etc. take a leap of reliability.

Second point, CERN, the original internet developers, [pre military] currently have data delivery 100 times faster than my ADSL2+ where I live. We need that sort of data transfer for blueray to be affordable to download.

Ergo we need all three things to come together.

1] Copper circuits made redundant, and replaced by carbon based. [in development]
2] Bandwidth at current CERN internet rates. [if we are given it]
3] Apple leading the pack to deliver for the average user. [no risk there]

As carbon has been discovered to cause less resistance in the quantum, we can expect the bottleneck to be overcome. 
But carbon is 5 years out and I am sure it will reset Moore's original Law. I believe for the moment blu-ray, will be delivered via disc only, but an opportunity for retailers. I love the issues you raise, wishing you well.

Paul Richards | Mar 14, 2008 | 8:32PM

I fail to see how Google will replace Akamai in the delivery of video for Apple. The difference between the two is that Google have a lot of servers in a few locations. Akamai have a few servers in a LOT of locations. In terms of pushing HD video to clients, you need to get the source as close the client as possible. So in that case, Akamai wins.

In the town where I live, the nearest Google server is over 3000km away. If I stand on the roof, I can see the building that houses a bunch of Akamai servers.

Matthew Healey | Mar 14, 2008 | 8:56PM

Will this let me watch Monday Night Football in my garage with rabbit-ears again?

That's all I want out of my TV!

Doug | Mar 14, 2008 | 8:58PM

You may find my speculation on Apple's strategy visa vi next generation DVD, entitled "Skating to where the DVD player will go.", interesting: http://www.mathoda.com/archives/168

Ranjit Mathoda | Mar 14, 2008 | 8:58PM

Anyone notice Microsoft Xbox360 is also delaying going to Blu-Ray? Looks like Sony is going to be the loser after all.

Kevin Kunreuther | Mar 14, 2008 | 9:30PM

One comment few are talking about. Apple is resisting Blue Ray disc drive in its Macs to make it lees lije people will resell or share their movies. The resell of DVDs is very common on ebay. If movies are offered only by download over the internet, few end users will bother burning the movie to disc, sharing the movie among friends, or selling it on ebay when then no longer want to view it again.

Piracy is part of the reason Apple is resisting BlueRay. Avoiding BlueRay will not eliminate piracy, just make piracy less likely to be employed by average end users as a way to view movies.

Paul | Mar 14, 2008 | 9:45PM

I think Steve ought to pop a Blu-Ray drive in the AppleTV device. That would encourage sales of those, and people who want to add Blu-Ray to their stable of equipment would have an easy way to jump on that bandwagon. Then you could download low-def movies from Apple (assuming the selection approves), or play your own DVDs, including Blu-Ray.

Who needs Blu-Ray in a laptop or desktop? Only people who author content. But lots of people need Blu-Ray in a player!

Bill Davies | Mar 14, 2008 | 10:40PM

I am in the wedding industry and you paragraph about our industry is really poorly researched. You can contact WEVA.com and they have NLE usage information from a survey a few years ago. But I would say the ratio of Mac installs is similar to that of the general public. Adobe and Sony Vegas probably have a larger install base. There are more PC users than Mac. And Blue Ray is being delivered by those using Edieus.

Those on Macs are pushing their customers to use Apple TV. And evidently the recent update to Toast allows for blue-ray creation.

Brian Peterson | Mar 14, 2008 | 11:20PM

I can't tell whether Robert has the right answers, but at least he's asking the right questions here. That's at least half the battle. He's right about one thing for sure: It is odd that the Blu-ray option does not exist even as an Apple option for the Pro line (both laptops and desktops). That's odd enough (doesn't Apple want to make the money others are making by selling these drives to their customers?) that it does indeed raise the kinds of questions RObert brings up. As usual, he has good instincts.

Mister Snitch | Mar 14, 2008 | 11:59PM

You also need to take into account the effect of blu-ray on laptop battery life. That is not a happy scenario. Adding blu-ray to everything except laptops is not a winning solution for our current market. There are still technical hurdles.

Alma | Mar 15, 2008 | 12:33AM

As long as the last mile into users' homes is as slow as it is -- in the heart of San Francisco I pay Pacbell er AT&T DSL for 1.5Mbps down/750Kbps up but get only 650Kbps down/308Kbps -- the idea of video into homes via the Internet is ludicrous fantasy. Doesn't matter what the encoding; it's WAAAY too slow and it ain't gonna happen.

Herman Bubbert | Mar 15, 2008 | 1:56AM

What's even more galling than Apple not shipping BluRay, in my opinion, is that they have disabled support for regular DVD's in iLife. In the current version of iMovie, there is no integration with iDVD. Isn't that the big selling point that's always lorded over the PC options by Jobs at Apple presentations? Steve says "you can't get individual programs anywhere near this good on a PC, and OURS ALL WORK TOGETHER!!". Not anymore. Why? Because downloading is the way of the future, haven't you heard? Don't burn your movies to DVD, buy a .mac account and load them online. Riiight.

If you shoot in HDV, and then edit in the latest iMovie and want to make a standard definition DVD, your only option is to make a Quicktime movie. But the only Quicktime movie you can make in iMovie is a h.264 quarter resolution one. So let's review: shoot in a highly compressed form of HD (HDV), transcode to a less compressed form for editing (Apple Intermediary Format), transcode again to the most compressed codec you can get (h.264), and then transcode AGAIN to make a highly lossy MPEG2 file from a format that has already thrown most of the information you started with. Welcome to the future.

In Ron Howard's movie "The Paper", there's a scene where a character is talking about how their paper is a tabloid and nobody expects much of them anyways. And another character replies essentially "Yeah we have girls in bikinis, and run sensational headlines and are a bit of a rag, but we have NEVER known a story was factually wrong and intentionally still gone ahead and run it. Congratulations, you've just become everything you always hated".

That's kind of how I feel about Apple these days, and some of their policies. You are playing politics and not only not enabling features, you are actually DISABLING features and playing games all for the sake of a few filthy lucre. Come on Steve, that sucks.

KD | Mar 15, 2008 | 2:45AM

Just because the term 'bug' was used for hardware issues prior to being applied to computers, it doesn't mean the infamous moth was not the basis for the computer usage.

Glenn | Mar 15, 2008 | 4:10AM

FWIW, I watched the 1080p Indy HD trailer just fine on my C2D MBP (Late 2006 model). I had an external 1900x1280 monitor hooked up to the DVI port.

It's probably true that 'most macs', in circulation, can't show 1080p, but probably 'most recent macs' can.

Bill McGonigle | Mar 15, 2008 | 4:36AM

The 1080p theory doesn't hold water. I've seen more than a few tests that show the average viewer can't tell the difference between a 720p and 1080p picture. I've also seen studies that show the picture/cost benefit of HD vs DVD hasn't been attractive yet (The format war didn't help, but now that Blu-Ray has won, players are becoming more expensive -- not sure about media).

In any case, 1080p files are far too big to be supported on the current infrastructure. I saw a Star Wars Episode IV in 1080p on BT, and it was a whopping 15GB. That would have taken weeks to download. A file that large would also cause problems with playing simply due to file size issues (seeking would cause problems).

So I don't think Apple's delay in supporting Blu-Ray has anything to do with 1080p. Also, as you pointed out, there are many more uses for the format, including home generated content and archiving (DVD's, even dual layer, aren't that useful with 500GB+ hard drives).

The answer is probably more innocuous. The format wars weren't over until last month, the format hasn't caught on yet, and Apple was in between release cycles. They probably did want to hilight their support for 720p in iTunes and Apple TV, so a summer release of a player made sense, timing wise.

I'm sure we'll see one then.

Bob Matsuoka | Mar 15, 2008 | 5:12AM

I'm not sure about "owning" Hollywood. You ought to take a look at hulu.com. I think they've done a very good job with the platform, and they have one thing Apple (and for that matter Youtube) doesn't, control of high quality content that will draw people to the site. They have an HD section which, if people have adequate connections, looks pretty amazing on my 24" screen.

Interestingly, Disney/ABC is not part of the venture. I wonder why that is?

l.a.guy | Mar 15, 2008 | 5:23AM

Windows PCs have had Blu-Ray options for years. It is strange to see apple so far behind in this regard

Bob Sanford | Mar 15, 2008 | 8:14AM

I'm not why Apple is so far behind the mark here. I gave up waiting and switched to Vista... I went out and ordered one of the new Blu-ray notebooks from Acer yesterday:

http://www.acer.com/gemstoneblue/eng/

Steve Johnson | Mar 15, 2008 | 8:27AM

Blu-ray includes H.264 (a codec Steve loves) and SMPTE VC-1 (standard based on Microsoft's Windows Media Video (WMV) technology- a codec Gates loves)

According to Mark Cuban video over the internet will be a 3 to 7 trillion dollars a year cash cow. Steve doesn't want to give Gates a leg up (not even a toe up). Therefore no Blu-ray.

Harry | Mar 15, 2008 | 9:43AM

Hulu beats iTunes? Lol. In NBC's dreams. In a year, iTunes will surpass Wallmart in video sales. Hulu doesn't support iPod and, until it does, like all of the other once rivals to iTunes, it will remain a niche player.

Jim Hillhouse | Mar 15, 2008 | 9:45AM

Partially true what you say about no money in Blue-Ray for Apple.

But more so its about Apple's ability to pick what not to pursue. It's trademark Jobs. iPod is not great so much for what it is but for what it isn't. Same with the Mac. And 400 plus for the ability to burn Blueray disks which I then have to pay another 400 to play back on my HDTV just doesn't economically make sense. I'm sure when (if) the market is right there will be blueray options for macs. But given the fact that so many are willing to listen to heavily compressed .mp3 and .mp4 files, it's not even certain that 1080p will really be adopted as a mainstream video format. Most can't see the difference between 1080p and 1080i, especially on smaller screen sizes. And anything broadcast over the air won't be any better than 1080i anyway, so the bulk of what people watch at home today can't even be had in 1080p.

mac84 | Mar 15, 2008 | 10:21AM

The problem with putting Blu-ray drives into computers is that people will want more than just using them to burn their own HD-movies, or backup discs... they will want to playback commercial releases on their HD-capable 23, 24, and 30-inch Apple monitors/screens.

Welcome to supporting someone else's encryption at your OS and hardware level... Can you say "Vista"? I knew you could.

HDCP via HDMI-connections, AACS, BD+, etc.

Much smarter to dodge that bullet by focusing on your in-house DRM - based on downloads - and by offloading the hardware-based encryption support to a dedicated device like the AppleTV. :)

MikieV | Mar 15, 2008 | 10:32AM

"I can only guess that Jobs sees Blu-ray as a threat to that download business and this decision to delay Blu-ray deployment is an expensive stalling action, buying time for Apple to launch its own true HD alternative," Cringely writes. "Yes, you can download some movies from iTunes in 720p right now, but in the surging HD market 720p is no longer good enough. The obvious standard is 1080p and right now you need Blu-ray or BitTorrent to get that. Putting on my near-futurist hat, then, I'm guessing Apple is working madly to deploy its own 1080p download solution and is hoping the world will wait for it."

The answer he's waiting for is WiMax and it's almost here.

Zeke | Mar 15, 2008 | 12:46PM

What about the very simple answer that it will raise the cost of any machine you put it in, so right now the size of the market does not merit adding it to all machines. People who want bluray burning can buy a 3rd party burner to do so.

MT | Mar 15, 2008 | 1:56PM

Maybe the answer is much simpler. Maybe HD is not that important to a large segment of the public. I work in the engineering dept. of a broadcast TV station. Trust me, HD is not that big of a deal once you get past the "it's new and I gotta have the newest" mentality. It's still just video. It will never replace looking out a window or stepping outside. Japan has been at work on standard that is 8k x 8k line resolution, and I wouldn't rush out to get that, either. Unlike some, the last thing I want to do with a computer is watch TV/movies. So maybe HD is just not that important to Apple. Just a thought,
aaplhead

aaplhead | Mar 15, 2008 | 2:15PM


Some relevant Jobs quotes:

Downloads, not physical media, are the future of HD content consumption. - Jan 08

Blu-ray won, but in the new world order of instant online movie rentals, in HD, no one will care about what format is where." - Jan 08

Personally, I'm waiting for 3D-TV. HD is nice, but still only 2D.

3D-TV BBC trial

Al Wilson | Mar 15, 2008 | 4:20PM

There are two kinds of Cringely columns: the kind that synthesize bits of information from different trends and culminate in an "ah ha" moment, and x's plan for world domination (usually Google, Apple, or both) that are taking a couple years longer than expected to actually materialize. I believe this one is the latter.

First, Blu-ray burners are expensive and far from common on PCs. Since the burner business is core the Apple's pro customers, no doubt Apple wants a Blu-ray burner to appear at the outset (not just a reader), with a laptop version not too far behind. Until the demand is there for a build-to-order option, a 3rd party burner is the preferred solution.

The professional software you mention is DVD Studio Pro - a separate piece of software from Final Cut Pro, even though they are bundled together. DVD Studio has had some growing pains in the past and it's not at all surprising that Apple is only now adding support for next-gen media. The Blu-ray format is much more feature-rich than the traditional DVD format, and DVD Studio Pro will need a significant update to provide an authoring platform which takes advantage of those features. Apple's recent devotion to a unified HD workflow (Final Cut Pro 6 and ProRes422) has been energy better spent than building authoring software to fuel both sides of the format war.

I would also argue that the number of event videographers that need to distribute in HD right now, or in the past year, is quite low. Almost all are shooting in 1080i prosumer HDV which looks perfectly fine down-converted to 480p DVD, but gains little advantage in 1080p (especially with images shot under wedding lighting, after a couple generations of 25mbs editing). Sure it would be a nice to have, but I doubt anyone's postponing their wedding over it.

More significantly, Apple isn't going to give up the pro authoring market because they're pushing HD downloads or vice-versa. The two just aren't that closely related right now. Now that the war is over, I think a Blu-ray update is likely to be announced at NAB in a couple weeks - perhaps along with the introduction of a Mac Pro Blu-ray option as part of their traditional NAB release cycle, rather than as a compromise to some intra-departmental Steve verses sensibility conflict at Apple. Apple has been quite busy in the past year. When it comes to dividing up resources between:

a. the race to define the future of mobile computing (iPhone)
b. the race to define the future of desktop computing (Leopard)
c. support for authoring two competing disc formats, both with limited adoption, on expensive hardware

it's not hard to see why Apple chose to allocate resources the way it did.

I also don't understand why disc-based solutions and download solutions are supposed to be mutually exclusive anyway. If mom buys an Apple TV today (is this really likely?), and her DVD player breaks in two years, she'll probably buy a new one for that also plays Blu-ray discs. How are people going to backup all those 50GB downloads? To Blu-ray-Rs? Why wouldn't they just buy the movie on Blu-ray? It doesn't make sense.

Similarly, 1080p movies aren't going to break the Internet. 720p movies haven't. Tons of 1080p trailers haven't. 1080p movies on Bit Torrent haven't. Sure some local cacheing or peering at the ISP level would help, but it would help for 720p and 480p movies too. It just seems like the demand will grow in pace with infrastructure, just like it has up until now.

As for playback, a lot of Macs can actually play 1080p movies right now. The specs are here:
http://www.apple.com/quicktime/guide/hd/recommendations.html

Also, discussion of this mythical destined-for-every-Mac chip has been around for a while, but in the meantime several modern video cards have added h.264 decoding features. This again seems like a natural evolution and not some chip-to-end-all-chips strategy that Apple has been sitting on. 1080p televisions have only become mainstream in the past year, so is it really worth dealing with all of the support issues when 720p is fine for most people right now (just like DVDs were fine for most people a couple years ago). In fact, most HD cable and VoD looks like crap. So if that's the competition for the rental / on-demand market, the Apple TV already has it beat as you can see here:
http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/apple-tv-20-vs-blu-ray-dvd-hd-cable-the-comparison/

If you want to see Apple's real (not nearly as dramatic) challenge, check out the iTunes Movie Store. Look at how many movies are available for rental (by far what most people want from a download service). Then look at how many movies are available for rental in HD. Then ask yourself whether it's the lack of 1080p, or the lack of a compelling catalog of titles and the restriction to Apple TV, that is holding up adoption of HD downloads.

As much as I would like to see 1080p downloads (if just for the sake of it - since I, like many, have a 720p display), it seems only logical that Apple would wait until their catalog grows and until the infrastructure (which is available now - no Google-magic needed) has matured - more 1080p displays, more Macs and PCs that can decode 1080p H.264, and more bandwidth in general.

Still the most likely reason for this not happening right now is simply that the studios (which Apple far from "owns") are adverse to the idea of HD versions of their movies (especially 1080p ones) with easily breakable encryption floating around the Internet. They don't even seem too keen on having 720p versions on a computer, since right now they're only available on the Apple TV.

In summary:
My short term (0 - 2 year) prediction:
DVD Studio Pro will support Blu-ray asap, with 3rd party burners, and shortly after with a BTO option for Mac Pros and later for other Macs. Apple will continue with 720p HD downloads - chip or not.

My long term (2 - 5 year) prediction:
Blu-ray will be almost as ubiquitous as DVD was at the same point in it's lifespan. Apple HD rentals (probably 1080p at some point - but dependent on the studios more than the technology) will co-exist with HD VoD rentals and Netflix's hybrid mail-order/online rentals. Blu-ray discs will be the preferred choice for "owning" movies.

-Sean

Sean Fitzroy | Mar 15, 2008 | 5:53PM

The next version of Apple TV will have a Blu-Ray drive. It will probably be the first Apple product to support it. This Apple TV will also have a 1TB HDD in it and there will be a deal whereby a version can be stored on the Apple TV with the Fairplay DRM.

This will be one step toward the real evolution of the Apple TV -- an actual flat panel television produced by Apple with all of the Apple TV tech built in and seamlessly leveraging iLife and the Internet.

Omar Javaid | Mar 15, 2008 | 8:50PM

720p60 video is larger than 1080p24. There is no logistical reason why you can't get 1080p24 movies TODAY.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater | Mar 15, 2008 | 11:02PM

I'll second the notion that many Macs play 1080p just fine. I'm using a Rev A MacBook Pro (a two year old design) and I just downloaded the new Wall-E trailer from Apple's site at 1080p resolution. The trailer is natively a bit bigger than my laptops display, but the video plays perfectly whether scaled to fit my screen or running natively off the right and bottom edge.

The recommended spec for 1080p on Apple's Quicktime gallery for Intel machines is 2.0 GHz Core Duo and my machine is a 1.8 GHz Core Duo. When I play the trailer I'm not pegging the headroom of either CPU core according to Activity Monitor.

If you are referring to some of the older PPC based machines with anemic graphics cards, then I'd understand your point. But if you are referring to currently shipping machines, what gives? I know having a dedicated graphics card helps, but the only machines that Apple's shipping with integrated graphics are the Mini, the MacBook and the Air. Are you suggesting that these are the majority of the machines they are selling?

Andrew Neely | Mar 16, 2008 | 1:08AM

KD said: If you shoot in HDV, and then edit in the latest iMovie and want to make a standard definition DVD, your only option is to make a Quicktime movie. But the only Quicktime movie you can make in iMovie is a h.264 quarter resolution one. So let's review: shoot in a highly compressed form of HD (HDV), transcode to a less compressed form for editing (Apple Intermediary Format), transcode again to the most compressed codec you can get (h.264), and then transcode AGAIN to make a highly lossy MPEG2 file from a format that has already thrown most of the information you started with. Welcome to the future.

KD, you can export to other codecs and sizes from iMovie (new an old) which allows you to pass a high quality video to iDVD or DVD Studio Pro.

DR | Mar 16, 2008 | 4:32PM

My prediction/hope for the next major revision of AppleTV is that it ups the size of the hard drive, includes a dual HDTV tuner (ATSC/QAM/OCAP-compliant), and HD DVR functionality, along with all of the functionality in the current AppleTV. A higher-end version would include a Blu-Ray drive. This would position the box nicely versus what the cable/satellite company offers. Yes, you have to fork out money up front for AppleTV (whereas you get the cable box free with your monthly subscription), but imagine having DVR functionality with a beautiful Apple interface (better than Tivo!) that works with the signal from your antenna or cable without having to pay monthly fees to the cable company or to Tivo. (The only extra cost to Apple would be to provide an RSS-style TV-listings stream via the net to the AppleTV. They might just outsource this to TitanTV for the cost of a couple dollars per box sold.) Given a patent filed by Apple in Oct. 06, this is all quite possible. Apple benefits from adding DVR functionality because the AppleTV becomes a real alternative to a cable box. Right now it's not and how many boxes do people want under their TV? It could gain some real market share and bring a lot more business to their video download/rental store. Of course, while the cable box offers downloads/VOD from the cable company, the AppleTV would only offer these options from Apple (and with superior video quality, according to current reviews I've seen online). Apple might even partner with content providers (e.g. Disney-owned ABC?) to offer on-demand re-runs of popular shows with limited commercial interruptions (the way you can currently watch Lost at ABC.com), compensating for the loss of the free VOD content available with a cable box. AppleTV would need to be able to output content at a variety of resolutions (either by passing through the native stream or by interpolation) up to 1080i or 1080p. Not sure if it can do this right now.

For most people, 720p HD from AppleTV will be good enough for watching their Friday night flicks but for folks who want the best quality and the ability to keep movies on physical discs, you'll be able to pay a couple hundred bucks more and get an AppleTV with a Blu-Ray drive, giving you an all-in-one living room solution: traditional TV (antenna/cable) in SD and HD with DVR, on-demand/PPV video in SD and HD, music and photo streaming from your Mac or PC, and cinemaphile-quality 1080p movie playback on disc, plus limited internet content (Flickr, local weather, etc.) THAT would be a very compelling product!

Tim W. | Mar 16, 2008 | 10:21PM

"But the bigger problem still is consumer apathy for HD. There just isn't a quantum leap between DVDs and Blu Ray. A lot of users can't even visually recognize the difference between 480 and 1080 unless they're side by side. "

Bingo. And the insane thing is that the movie industry is fixated on solving this non-problem rather than fixing the real problems with DVDs.
The BIG problem with DVDs is this bullshit of locking out selected commands from regions of the disc. So, even though you have seen the damn thing a hundred times, you can't skip forward through the FBI warning. Then, if you are unlucky, you can't skip through the previews, or you can't fast forward through them. And so it goes.
As long as Apple provides a product that doesn't treat its customers with outright hatred, they are well ahead of the DVD industry.

And, on the technical side, BlueRay is also largely solving a non-problem, in the same way that no-one was much interested in quadrophonic audio or audio sampled at 96kHz of 24 bit samples. It's not that people don't want a better quality video signal, it's that BlueRay attacks the wrong problem. The single biggest problem with the quality of movies today is the 24fps at which they are filmed. This gives rise to all sorts of stuttering effects on pans, weird strobing and so on. Fixing this does more to produce an apparently better movie than mindlessly pumping up the resolution.

But the movie industry is populated by people with two essential characteristics --- insane levels of greed, and insane levels of technical incompetence. So I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for either of these issues to be fixed --- so much easier to whine to the world about how ungrateful the American consumer is that they refuse to get excited about the crap they are being fed, even though it is being provided in such a shiny bowl.

Maynard Handley | Mar 17, 2008 | 6:26AM

I'm not too sure I prefer HD over DVD!

Once you have blue-ray on a big TV you see all their imperfections. In the new Fantastic Four movie it actually did the impossible and made Jessic Alba look "just alright".

John | Mar 17, 2008 | 7:21AM

"But the bigger problem still is consumer apathy for HD. There just isn't a quantum leap between DVDs and Blu Ray. A lot of users can't even visually recognize the difference between 480 and 1080 unless they're side by side. "

Indeed. Add to that the astronomical price difference here in New Zealand ... and that adds up to not many BluRay machines being sold.

And right now, there aren't any recorders available to us here in NZ - and the cheapest player you can buy is a Playstation 3. Which comes with more fun things on it than just a BluRay player.

So the price of players has to drop dramatically, and player/recorders need to be available and also decently priced.

KiwiCanuck | Mar 17, 2008 | 4:50PM

Maynard:

The key to getting past the FBI warnings is to rip the DVDs to a format that can be watched by a computer that is hooked up to your TV, or from one of a variaty of DVD/Divx players.

It's easy to purchase a DVD, rip the movie to an AVI format, then watch right from the movie's start point without the hassle of menus and such. An app called "Handbrake" does most of this for you.

I've been using a Mac Mini (Intel Core2 Duo, of course) hooked up to my 1080p Sharp Aquos via a DVI to HDMI adapter for almost a year now. DVDs ripped to the hard drive look amazingly good when upscaled using VLC or even Quicktime Player.

Steve Dorsey | Mar 17, 2008 | 6:18PM

Thanks for all the good comments. I'd like to respond briefly to a few of them.

Yes, Blue-Ray drives hold movies that are far more than 8 gigabytes in length and they presuppose a data rate that is far greater than most U.S. broadband connections can support, but that's the base Blu-Ray configuration using MPEG-2 compression. While you are right that Blu-Ray supports H.264, you are wrong to think that it supports ONLY H.264. At the behest of the movie industry, it also supports MPEG-2, which is where those 40-gig movies come from. Why do that? Simply to make it harder to rip movies and throw them on the Internet. But the same movie when compressed with H.264 is substantially smaller.

Second, Apple hasn't avoided Blu-Ray because the drives are unavailable, too expensive, or won't fit in notebook computers. Hollywood runs on Mac Pro's -- honking big Mac Pro's maxed out with RAM and disk and priced close to $10K as a result. there is plenty of room in a Mac Pro for any Blu-Ray drive made and the cost is immaterial to the professional market.

Third, I don't make this stuff up. The exact questions I am asking are being asked by a lot of people including people who work at Apple. The answers aren't so obvious and it isn't so simple. Maybe I'm wrong about my conclusions, but not that Apple is taking a serious risk here with losing the event video market -- a risk that can only be justified by some even larger potential gain.

Bob

Bob Cringely | Mar 17, 2008 | 10:46PM

HD vs Blu-Ray? I can't wait to have that in my house but that super high quality is lost on many. Most consumers and many professionals can't even tell the difference between a normally sized photo with the correct dimensions and one that has been refitted to a disproportional picture box with squashed squat people with fat wide faces. it drives me crazy and I see it on hobbyist and professionally designed webpages and in magazines and other ads.

Juan | Mar 17, 2008 | 11:24PM

Ehhhm, hello, rest of the planet here. You know, those silly little people outside the US and Western Europe, there is quite a few of us on the planet now! And guess what? We don't have fast internet connections and we are not planning on getting any soon. So while Apple or Google are busy planning world domination of the US market, you might want to think about the fast that in Greece for example the Mac market is non existent and has been so for so many years it is probably impossible to resurrect. Same applies to most of the countries in the world.

Alexander Chalkidis | Mar 18, 2008 | 12:47AM

Yes, Alexander, Macs are sold mainly in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Japan, and Western Europe, but not so much in the rest of the world. What's your point? Those countries I listed constitute huge markets. And besides, Cringely writes for PBS, the Public Broadcasting System, which belongs to us silly little people in the U.S.A.

Tim W. | Mar 18, 2008 | 1:11AM

Tim,

Alex has a point, and the fact you are missing it is hilarious... Maybe he could have toned his comment differently but you didn't need to confirm the stereotypes on american arrogance.

I'll try to state the point.
The US. ok.
Canada. ?? (Huge market ?? its about the size of iraq ...)
Japan. ok.
Western Europe. ok
UK (already counted I guess...)
So that brings us to three mature markets.

What Cringley is discussing is a standard that will last some 20 years.
If Blueray gets a serious foothold in some of these countries:
Egypt, Turkey, Iran or
Russia and Ukraine or
India and pakistan or
China

Apple will hardly get back in. And those are growing markets. And the population of that list totals 3 billion today (your list is less tha a billion). And those countries are probably interested in content that wont be on itunes for a while.

Remember what happened with gsm. Volume is king. So Apple is gambling hard to get a stranglehold on some markets. But it could easily loose the world domination battle for the dinamics pointed out by Alex. Who cares if this is PBS, globalisation is here and if cringly talks about domination this is the game. If he is talking of a mature niche where apple will do its game, well that is business as usual.
Besides japan being japan AND sony's home I wouldn't count it seriuosly on your list.

Alex: I though greece would count as western europe as market behaviour if not for geography ;)


Bin do | Mar 18, 2008 | 5:35AM

Just watched Triumpth of the Nerds again and it ended with Larry spewing on about how bits don't belong in a box, put it on the Net. He was referring to upgrading to Windows 95 and Microsoft's determination for shipping content in cardboard boxes.

Well, Larry has always been an extreme idealistic idiot. But Jobs doesn't follow too far behind. Remember that he was convinced that everything was great and successful about the Macintosh, but it wasn't until he left that Apple really took off.

Thats because Jobs, like Larry, are of the engineering breed... but are horrible market estimators. Its a market of whats good enough and the masses adoptation. The same reason why Adobe sucks on Mac now is the same reason why Apple is sucking in the future. All that great hardware isn't jack if people won't use it. And they won't. This is because developers from grandma to seasoned Directors are going to find that creating blue-ray discs in HD can still be done on the PC but can't be done on an Apple.

Now downloading this content would be ideal true, but the Internet just isn't fast enough nor will it be in time to justify the demise of BlueRay. That and people are always going to prefer reality over virtual reality (read: tangible goods in my pocket or briefcase vs. cyberland). What are all the album cover jacket artist to do?
Bottom line, people are going to want to have libraries of content at their disposal. No network computer for me Larry (not unless I can stack them in my bookcase). I'll prefer virtual reality in the form of downloading bits when its not so virtual and more 'reality'. I.e. if that movie I download can suddenly appear and playback in the palm of my hand or immerse me in the actual film. Until then, I'd prefer my pocket DVD player (with actual disc) or my very real big screen TV and tangible high def wide screen and all the kudos it comes with.

Steveorevo | Mar 18, 2008 | 7:58AM

Grace Hopper Story:

I believe the quote in the log book was along
the lines of:

First example of an ACTUAL bug...something something.

David Fetrow | Mar 18, 2008 | 8:32PM

Admiral Grace Hopper's logbook entry was never claimed to be the origin of the term "bug". It was only claimed to be the first documented occurrence of a bug being found in a computer. Please don't try to blame the early pioneers of computing with a mistake almost completely the fault of less than precise memories of those endlessly repeating the story.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:H96566k.jpg That's the bug and and the entry. Simple, clear and quite humorous!

Enki | Mar 19, 2008 | 12:57PM

Bin do,

I'm not going to get into a flame war here, but what are you talking about? Alexander's comments made no mention of Blu-Ray at all. He talked about "fast internet connections" and the low market share that Macs have in Greece. Honestly, I got very little sense out of his post. (I assume English is not his native language, although his English is certainly better than my non-existent Greek.)

All he seemed to communicate is that Apple and Google aren't as important as Cringley thinks (he does write about both companies a lot) because there are many countries in the world where they play lesser roles than they do in wealthy developed markets. And my response is: so what? Apple and Google (and lots of other tech companies) are titans in some of the world's biggest markets. I find these companies interesting. So do lots of other folks in America, Canada, Western Europe, etc. Cringley is an American writer writing for an American TV network/website and I imagine most of his readers are Westerners. Does Alexander want Cringley to spend more time writing about technology from a Greek or non-Western perspective?

Your post wasn't much better. Do you seriously mean to compare the importance of Canada as a market with Iraq because their populations are about the same size? Really?? Never mind the fact that Canada has a MUCH larger economy, MUCH greater wealth.

As for the rest of your argument, yes, Apple delaying a decision to provide Blu-Ray drives might have an impact on its bottom line but very little (if any) of that negative impact would come through loss of sales in the developing countries you list, where Apple sales are close to nil anyway. How many folks in countries such as Egypt and Pakistan do you think will be shopping for Blu-Ray players in the next couple of years, really? I mean, what's the adoption rate of HDTVs in those countries? From what I've read, pretty low, if HDTV is available at all.

I don't think anything in either of my posts confirms anything about a stereotype of an "ignorant American." Your comment, however, was rude and smells of anti-Americanism.

Tim W. | Mar 19, 2008 | 4:23PM

Bob I am really puzzled as to what is accomplished by keeping robots from posting with this two word thing you've got. Do robots really post here? Do they send you ads for viagra or what?? This is a phenomenon I really must be left out of... I AM having trouble reading one of the words though.

John raines | Mar 21, 2008 | 6:51AM

Two things on this subject: (1) I prefer to have discs (DVDs, CDs, etc.) around because information is likely to get lost on my hard drive. Hard drives are cheap, but not that cheap that I can continuously upgrade - and even if I could there is an organizational issue. So I like having discs around. (2) Downloads are far superior - more portable, easier to use, etc, and MPAA/RIAA are learning that DRM doesn't work, and downloads are loosing it first.


So there's kinda a catch-22 with the whole thing - I'd rather have the freedom of the downloads, but the safety of the discs. DVDs did okay in this; but BD (and even HD-DVD) make it much more difficult. Even then, I can use most downloads on my Linux Desktop - but BD (and HD) will be far lagging; even DVD is not officially supported because of DeCSS and the draconian DMCA; unfortunately BD won't be much different.

TemporalBeing | Mar 22, 2008 | 4:51PM

You are assuming that the happy couple will get a Blu-Ray player as one of their wedding gifts. Right now most people don't have a player, which means the wedding photographers are going to have a hard time selling discs.

Bruce McL | Mar 26, 2008 | 11:33PM

Not sure your points about only techies wanting blu-ray, and 1080 being required to compete can stand together. I am definitely in the videophile category, have begun a blu-ray collection, and am fine with the 720 rez on the current iTunes offerings for watch-once download rentals. So while I agree with the notion that probably only techies will go for both, the same people that are fine with aTV downloads as their HD will probably be fine with those downloads being 720p. The kind of people who will pick on the issues (and there are some issues) will still find those issues in an 8GB H.264 download compared to a 40GB H.264 of a BD.

Brandon | Apr 14, 2008 | 9:18PM

It's really too bad then that Managed Copy isn't going to see the light of day.

http://www.engadgethd.com/2008/04/22/managed-copy-to-be-sorely-absent-from-finalized-aacs-specificati/

A deep integration of MC into iTunes could have made a Mac-based device (or a hypothetical HTPC Mac mini-like product) THE premiere Blu-ray player.

Noah | May 02, 2008 | 5:48PM

My old G4 cannot - and my MacMini has serious issues playing back 16:9-SD content (1024x576). Only my new 8-core can play these without stutter. Without hardware assistance you can never playback HD content on any normal iMac or laptop. Apple is already working on this:
http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/04/23/apple_buys_pa_semi/

Robert observes
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2008/pulpit_20080502_004815.html
[They'd be giving up a sports car in Final Cut Pro, but end up effectively owning the road instead.]

[To my knowledge we haven't yet seen Apple include that H.264 video encoder/decoder chip that I have written Apple is committed to using across its entire Mac/iPod/iPhone line.]

But Apple donsn't need that - because with the new chip-maker they can program the embedded Power-PC video co-processors
to any video format they please; the only issue here are (de-facto)standards and (possible) royalties

PS: would it not be ironic to again have G4 and G5 hardware inside INTEL boxes, only this time as high-performance and low-power video engines ? This will also help Apple in the quest to differentiate their boxes from the DELL masses. You could even run OS9 on these .... (remember the CP/M cards inside the Apple2).

tom | May 23, 2008 | 1:38PM

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