Apple CEO Steve Jobs calls out makers of high-definition camcorders

“Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs is testing his influence on the technology makers once again, this time by calling out makers of high-definition camcorders,” Ben Charny reports for Dow Jones Newswires.

“Last week, at an event to introduce Apple’s new line of computers, Jobs suggested that high-definition camcorders are having trouble producing top-quality video for personal computers,” Charny reports.

“Jobs is weighing in, rather subtlely, in the battle over what high-definition video standards become the norm. The rhubarb is over what happens when videos shot by the latest of high-definition camcorders is moved from the camcorder to a personal computer,” Charny reports. “When the transfer is done, the picture quality loses some of its resolution, Jobs said during a public appearance last week.”

“‘HD camcorders don’t have sensors for full high definition,’ Jobs said. As a consequence, when videos are transferred to a [computer], ‘they produce images at slightly lower resolution than HD,'” Charny reports.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Windows Vista prevents users from playing high-definition content – Network World, Friday, August 10, 2007


  1. the camcorderd *senses* it is attached to a Mac and delivers full AVCHD format to it. Senses a PC and warns it will deliver a lower resolution to the PC.
    Imagine the new Get a Mac advert ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    How’s that for one additional compelling reason to switch to a Mac for HD camcorders owners.

  2. The linked article in the MacDailyNews Note is interesting. That Microsoft would do such a thing to users to “gain favor” with the Hollywood powers is telling. That it did so voluntarily and defends the copy-protection scheme as being appropriate is delusional.

  3. @coolfactor

    Are you on planet earth. Vista dumbs down HD content Mac OS X does not.

    Hello? Do you not see what this could mean?

    MW= products… as in I want products that do not limit my choice of end quality.

  4. Steve Jobs is a pretty bright guy, but he’s out of his depth here. ALL consumer HD gear “sucks” and it’s not the cameras or their resolutions. The problem is that HD uncompressed video requires 1100 Mb/s. HDV which uses MPEG2 is 25 MB/s. AVCHD is a better CODEC but runs at a lower bit rate-15 Mb/s.
    You don’t need to do any math to see that a very large signal is beig squeezed into a very small one. And that means the images are going to suffer. Frankly, it’s a miracle of technology that these consumer video cameras look as good as they do and cost so little. Just a few years ago you would be spending 100 grand for an HD camera, so to get one that approoaches anything ressembling that quality for 1% of the cost is pretty darned inpressive.

  5. Im in the market for a HD camcorder, should I wait a bit longer to see if HD quality gets better or get one of these new AVCHD camcorders (im looking at getting Panasonic). Or should I wait to see if Apple release a camcorder?

  6. @ Poddy, wait a bit longer if you can help it. At the moment CMOS sensors are deemed to provide a higher quality than CCD sensors, the problem is that CMOS sensors are extremely expensive, I repeat, EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE!

    If you cannot wait, then get yourself a Camera that is video capable and has a CMOS sensor. You will probably looking at the thick end of the wedge in terms of cost. Roughly more expensive than an 8 core or quad core Mac pro 3.0GHz!

  7. @ Kraig Bailey

    I don’t believe he is referring to the compression. Steve has been a supporter of AVC (aka h.264 or MPEG-4 Part 10) since it’s inception. It even uses QuickTime’s file format.

    What I believe he was referring to is that there are no cameras out there that give true 1080p video at either 24 or 30 fps.

    Sure there are Bayer array cameras that interpolate the colors.

    Sure there are three CCD cameras with less than the full 1080×1920 at 24 or 30 frames per second.

    But there are no consumer or “prosumer” cameras (none that I am aware of — and apparently none that Steve is aware of) that have the full 1080×1920 progressive scanned with 3 CCDs (one for each RGB color).

    Thus whatever camera you have gives you less than HD could really be. Will such cameras exist in the not to distant future? Yes. I believe Steve is just a little impatient.

    Also with regard to the compression… While many people think 15 Mbps AVC for the video (not video and audio) is “acceptable” for viewing HD, a person would not want that bit rate as their permanent *source* material. If possible you want the source material to be 50+ Mbps or higher. (An International Telecommunications Union — ITU — did a study a while back and found that it took 110 Mbps or higher using AVC to have a compressed imagery that was indistinguishable from the original. Some purists might even push for that high a data rate.)

  8. 1. It will further give Apple another leverage point to purchase massive amounts of NAND Flash memory, furthering their economies of scale which no other company can match.

    2. Sony, Canon, JVC, Panasonic dominate the market space, and in the pro world there isn’t anything else to look at. These companies intentionally move the technology forward at an amazingly slow pace, in order to keep milking long-in-the-tooth products at premium pro prices.
    Apple can carve into this market in a similar fashion to RED, but with a brand and economies of scale not seen in this market space.

    A $899 Apple HD camcorder that can shoot 5 megapixel photos, that has a touch screen interface, is dead simple to use, and stores 32 GB of data on a built-in flash bank – how are Canon, Sony and the rest to respond?

    – Flash is the direction fo all things digital gadget storage, but no one can match Apple’s buying powers. Either they launch with less storage capacity in hopes to match Apple in pricing, or match Apple’s storage specs. and charge more – or go broke trying to match Apple’s price and storage abilities… Sony and the rest won’t go for anything less than fat margins, so count on their products suddenly going from industry leading to “me too” on the cheap…

    – If they ignore Apple (a large possibility) they can watch their still and high-end pro-sumer video camera sales start to die on a vine…

    Odds are they would be slow to respond, but try to copy Apple – and do a horrible job at it.

    I’ve wanted Apple to produce a camcorder for years, and hopefully Apple will storm into this market sooner than later as well.

  9. @ Crabapple

    As someone who actually works with and integrates high end focal plane arrays (both CCD and CMOS up through 125 Mpixels per FPA) I don’t agree that CMOS sensors are significantly more expensive than CCDs. The implementation is a bit newer, and CCDs are still “the old standby” but CMOS is rapidly becoming equivalent to CCDs in all areas and in many cases becoming less expensive to manufacture — especially very large format focal plane arrays.

    Besides it is relatively easy to find prosumer cameras that Poddy would likely find acceptable for much less than an 8 core Mac Pro. However, if he’s looking for a professional equivalent and does true 1080p using 3 FPAs he’s not in the prosumer realm anymore. That’s still professional realm only per Steve Jobs’ complaint.

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