An Apple TV with a Blu-ray player?

“Apple could make [a move] that could well be a game changer: introducing a new version of Apple TV with a built in Blu-ray player,” Saul Hansell writes for The New York Times.

“Separately, neither Apple TV nor Blu-ray players have excited consumers. People have been wary of the fight between Blu-ray and rival HD DVD players, worrying that they will end up owning the disk equivalent of a useless Betamax player. And Apple TV just didn’t seem to have all that many useful things you could do with it,” Hansell writes. “For that matter, online video rentals have been around for several years, by way of Movielink, and also have attracted very few users. The hottest movie download service in fact may be Xbox Live, which makes sense because the game machines are already hooked up to televisions.”

MacDailyNews Take: Hansell has a disconnect here: video rentals via Apple’s market-dominating iTunes many well attract many users. Perhaps the problem with video rentals attracting customers stems more from those offering them and how they’re offering them than from the concept of the video rental model itself?

Hansell continues, “Imagine, however, if Apple introduced this product, say for $399: It plays Blu-ray disks. It lets you buy or rent movies and TV programs from the Internet. It automatically downloads and plays free video (and audio) podcasts. And it brings your iTunes music collection to your living room.”

MacDailyNews Take: Sounds great. Who’s giving Apple the free Blu-ray players? Or, more likely, who’s going to pay Apple to install their Blu-ray players in Apple TVs? $399 for what Hansell describes sounds a bit farfetched right now. And shiny plastic discs, what’s their future, really?

Hansell continues, “This combination of features may be enough of a package that consumers will feel they aren’t taking too much risk buying one. And Apple’s brand may also reassure them. The company is not only the sexiest name in consumer electronics right now, but it also has a respectable track record of being able to negotiate with Hollywood to bring content to its devices. (The first version of Apple TV was a bit of an exception).”

MacDailyNews Take: The problem is with iTunes Store content, not Apple TV, and the fault lies with a skittish Hollywood, not Apple.

Hansell continues, “Apple’s clout might also help tip the now-tied race between Blu-ray and HD DVD.”

MacDailyNews Take: Perhaps Hansell missed the news: HD DVD is the walking dead; there is no “tie” with the superior Blu-ray today and there wasn’t even before Warner yesterday dumped HD DVD to release titles exclusively on Blu-ray.

Hansell continues, “There are two other features of this product I’m imagining I’d like to see, but I think are less likely: streaming video and a commitment to advertiser-supported free video. Apple has focused on video downloads, in part because the quality is better than streaming and they fit into its iTunes model. But the first Apple TV does have streaming for movie trailers. Adding a broader streaming capability would expand programming choices and make the device useful for live and very recent content, like news and sports.”

MacDailyNews Take: Agreed.

Hansell continues, “Such a device could also have a TV tuner, a CableCard slot and act as a digital video recorder. But my guess is that Mr. Jobs would find that this makes it far too complex and he will leave these functions to the cable set top boxes.”

Full article here.

65 Comments

  1. A new blu-ray player is due to debut at CES that is MUCH less expensive..well under $200…so it’s not THAT far fetched that Apple could offer an integrated solution. Unlikely yes…but not beyond the realm of possibility.

  2. OK, the CableCard slot was my idea. And the USB port can handle a tuner. But here is the important thing to me. TV is fine how it is. Add the Blu Ray to the desktop and enable streaming. I would think “n” could handle this. Keep the living room uncluttered.

  3. I don’t think Apple will do this; if they wanted to include disc drives in the Apple TV, why haven’t they done it already with a CD or DVD player? I think far more likely is just that they will start phasing in BluRay drives into Macs, starting with the Mac Pro (instead of Combo vs. SuperDrive, Super vs. UltraDrive?) and push HD movie downloads or rentals from iTunes. The long downloading time shouldn’t matter if the movie can start playing (on the computer OR Apple TV) within a few minutes, as it loads.

    Two things I would love to see are 1) DVD or BluRay disc ripping of movies that they have already got on iTunes; they could just make it part of the agreement when a studio agrees to sell content on the iTunes Store. 2) Streaming a DVD from a computer with iTunes to Apple TV. It doesn’t make sense to include two separate disc drives, one in Apple TV and one in your computer, since they already have the technology to stream movies. Why can’t they just stream a playing DVD or BluRay Disc? Again, it may violate some copyright, but if they made it a condition of a movie studio that wishes to sell on iTunes that their movies on disc be streamable to Apple TV, it would be pretty nice. I can dream.

  4. Blu-Ray HD in the AppleTV will enable “Pre Play” of HD content.

    Pre Play will enable a customer to purchase content via iTunes and enable Apple to stream the content in low res format for instant access and ship the same content on Blu Ray disks for high quality 1080p viewing.

    This is the only business model that makes since at this time, since broadband cannot currently deliver HD in a reasonable time.

    You saw it here first!

  5. Blu-Ray player prices need to go down to promote uptake of the technology, so hopefully “pr” is correct with cheaper models coming out at CES.

    The concept of a Blu-Ray drive being incorporated into a TV makes sense to me. It would allow one to eliminate their DVD player and replace it with a unit that can play DVDs, Blu-Ray, stream video from their computer and hopefully download purchased or rented content from iTMS.

    The price point would be important. $399 wouldn’t be too bad considering one would have two machines in one. Of course this relies on drives being cheap enough to keep the margins healthy.

  6. Having a good DVR independent of the cable company would be great. Currently have to rent it for $12 / month with an expensive digital cable channel package. The DVR certainly does improve the TV experience — 1000 channels, can record 2 programs at once, then watch when convenient and fast-forward thru the commercials.

    If Apple can make a device that gives one full control over the TV it would be welcome.

  7. Like the whole idea. Its a ps3. If Sony would put a library on the web. Personly I won’t pay more than one dollar for a tv show or movie. I think songs are a steal for a dollar. I listen to a song dozens of times. Rarely watch a movie or tv show twice.

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