Will Apple Go Blue-Ray or HD DVD?

by James R. Stoup Jul 03, 2006

Very soon Apple will be in a bit of bind. But not to worry, it will have plenty of company. In fact, in a few years Dell, HP, Apple, Acer, Lenovo, et al will all be facing the question of which drive to put in their computers, Blue Ray or HD DVD? Now some of you might point out that Apple has already chosen sides when it picked Blue-Ray. And I would agree that it looks like Apple is leaning in that direction. But one should remember that Steve Jobs will do whatever it takes to ensure Apple’s stock continues to rise. And if that means switching horses mid-race (Intel ring a bell?), then I have no doubt that he will do it. And so, as far as I can see it there really are only three options:

1. Support No Format—Who needs a high-density disk anyway? Haven’t you heard that disks are soooo 1990’s? Its all about wireless baby!
2. Support One Format Only—I see Apple choosing this route because it tends to put the technology it wants (read Blue Ray), not always what consumers want into its machines.
3. Support Both Formats—This is a great idea, but licensing restrictions may make this illegal. Yes, I know, that sucks.

I just can’t imagine that Apple would completely forego a disk drive. Even if it turned the Mac into a wireless, iPod connected, super streaming media hub there are some things that you just need a disk for. What else would they do? Stay with CDs and DVDs while Dell is releasing HD DVD drives? No, I don’t think this will happen. The one exception being that if Apple does actually make a media hub type device that device might be spared a disk drive in favor of streaming content off of Apple’s servers, but even then it’s a long shot.

The best solution would be for either Sony or Toshiba to concede and both companies just support one format. Realistically that will never happen because both companies have invested far too much money just to give up now. And that brings us back to where we started, what will Apple do?

One course of action might be to hang back, see which format seems to gain the most ground and then support that type and hope that it works out in the end. The ultimate goal in this case would be for one format to get pummelled and slowly fade out of the picture. And assuming Apple bets on the right horse, this would be a grand solution.

But how likely is that, really? With so many high profile companies on either (and sometimes both) sides of this struggle there are plenty of ways to keep both formats alive. And what do the consumers want? After all, they will be the ones who decide which format succeeds. Which one will they value most? Lower prices (both for the media and the reader) or higher storage?

Personally, I am leaning towards the higher storage, but thats me. Because you have to assume that the price will go down as time goes on. And if, in the long run, both types of disks/players cost approximately the same then the one with the higher storage will always win. So unless there is some hidden advantage to HD DVD that I haven’t heard of yet it would seem Blue Ray will eventually come out on top. Assuming, that is, that they ever ship their players. . .


  • Sony has stated that they don’t care if someone wants to combine HD-DVD and Blu-Ray (and it is Blu-ray, btw, not Blue Ray).

    History would seem to suggest that HD-DVD will come out on top, since Sony’s proprietary formats never seem to win over consumers (although Beta and HDCAM are both professional standards).

    Frankly, I don’t know and I don’t care which one comes out on top.  I want either a combo player or one standard to obliterate the other.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jul 03, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • The constant moaning you’re hearing stems from the tortured souls of your many readers who hate “content link” advertisement just as much as I do.


    I second the combo player - it makes perfect sense while the brainwashed consumers have their minds made up & define the market in the process. It would be perfect if one could also burn to both formats.

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Jul 03, 2006 Posts: 371
  • Bad Beaver, feedback heard loud and clear! I’ve disabled them for now. To be honest my gut told me not to do it, but the additional revenue to keep this site going was tempting. Let me rethink it…any other readers have opinions either way about intext advertising?

    Hadley Stern had this to say on Jul 03, 2006 Posts: 114
  • Is that the thing where certain words in the article are highlighted with links?

    If so, I have to agree; I hate it.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jul 03, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • It is Beeble (or it was, I’ve turned it off).

    Hadley Stern had this to say on Jul 03, 2006 Posts: 114
  • Thanky you! smile

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Jul 03, 2006 Posts: 371
  • ^ I need some sleep ^

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Jul 03, 2006 Posts: 371
  • I agree with the concept of a new superdrive (combo drive, whichever) would be the route Apple should go, although I’m not sure if this is possible.  My understanding is that Samsung or some other third party hardware maker announced it was planning on bringing a combo drive to market, but then they waffled on it, allegedly because of part of the fine print in the deal with Sony where they are explicitly prevented from releasing such a player.

    I suppose I should look for a link for the benefit of this discussion…

    Chicken2nite had this to say on Jul 03, 2006 Posts: 79
  • Well, upon looking for less than 5 minutes I see that samsung is indeed planning on releasing a combo player, so that’s promising.  It would probably be about 4-5 years before the price comes down on the burners to be included in anything other than a mid-range Mac Pro and still a year or two before they would even do that, although perhaps they would throw on a blu ray burner on the top end Mac Pro (and/or a built to order option) when the machine launches to appease the creative professionals with money to burn on 20 dollar blank media (when you can buy 50 dvd-r’s for the same price). 

    Anyways, just figured I’d follow up.

    Chicken2nite had this to say on Jul 03, 2006 Posts: 79
  • Neither. Is too soon to replace DVD, and the struggle between blu-ray and HD DVD will lead to the birth of new, with higher capacity discs.

    nana had this to say on Jul 04, 2006 Posts: 63
  • I don’t think that either format will win anything.  It seems that, rather than the more oft cited VHS/betamax wars of the 80s, we’re looking at the DVD-Audio/SACD flop of the early 20th century.

    For now, HD-DVD has the edge because it is significantly cheaper, and cheaper (with the same video quality) will win out hands down.

    Extra storage won’t be the deciding factor, especially since most of these discs wil be used for movies, which will easily fit on the smaller of the 2.

    e:leaf had this to say on Jul 04, 2006 Posts: 32
  • Is too soon to replace DVD, and the struggle between blu-ray and HD DVD will lead to the birth of new, with higher capacity discs.

    That’s certainly a distinct possibility.  And let’s hope when this happens, all of the damn companies can agree on a damn standard.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jul 04, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • Actually Apple has already chosen Blue-ray as their prefered “next generation” DVD format. This was announced last year. (http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2005/mar/10blu-ray.html)

    comctrl6 had this to say on Jul 04, 2006 Posts: 1
  • I’d contend with the idea that these next gen discs will only be used for movies, since there are plenty of other groups of people with growing storage concerns and a prosumer medium like blu ray with it’s 50 gig capacity could meet this demand, although the price of the discs will need to go down drastically to be close to on par with dvd-r’s in terms of cost per gigabyte.  The computer front is a significant flank in this war for the next gen disc, as people who have a blu ray burner on their computer would want to have a blu ray player for their television.

    Of course, the market for hdtv has yet to reach the tipping point (as can be seen by Nintendo refusing to support anything but 480p) and that won’t happen until you can buy a 720p set for under 400 bucks.  Unless we’re going to be seeing something better than 1080p in a television, I can’t see why there would be a need for anything better than blu ray.

    BTW, just because Apple’s on the Blu Ray board doesn’t mean that they would continue to back it solely if things went south.  Fox has been playing both sides to make sure they don’t lose out (anyone remember their failed super duper VHS that was meant to compete with DVD?  They had X-Men released that way as I recall…) and Apple could serve both sides with a combo drive, and although such a thing would be more expensive than a typical Blu Ray only burner, Apple has never been one to shy away from a higher price point.

    PS: e:leaf, not to nitpick (I can’t help it, it’s my nature) but I believe the DVD-Audio/SACD battle was during the late 20th century, but ya…

    Because of this format war though, I figure it might be good for the consumer, at least the savvy consumer that is.  I’m certainly not going to be buying a high def player in the near future, but I’ll be able to reap the benefits as prices will be corrected to fit the new market.  Season sets could be either rereleased in one or both of the new formats in high def, causing the standard def DVD sets to drop in price so that they can liquidate inventory; or they might (I doubt it, but it could happen..) decide to take a 6 disc season set and release it as a single disc for cheaper, as one would figure that manufacturing and distribution and packaging for a single disc would be less than 6 discs, then again what do I know.  Plus it would go against the notion of high definition and completely cut out the double dipping principle of getting people to buy a new copy of the DVD they already have.  I dunno, I just picked up Superman for 6 bucks the day thanks to them having a newer special edition with a better transfer and special features, meanwhile all I wanted was the John Williams score.  But whichever…

    I think I may have hit the limit again, so I’ll just shut up

    Chicken2nite had this to say on Jul 04, 2006 Posts: 79
  • Chicken you are correct and I am on the same side as most techies. I can care less who wins out in the end.

    It is most interesting though how the PS3 will tilt the equation between these competing HD disc formats. The PS3 would benefit from the extra storage space for games such as FF XIII’s huge texture maps while being able to play Blu-Ray discs to your hi-def screens.

    I will be one of the first customers for PS3 not to have the Blu-Ray capability but to have the first crack at FF XIII! BR is just a nicety on the side.

    Robomac had this to say on Jul 05, 2006 Posts: 846
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