Cringely: Why Apple CEO Steve Jobs is holding back Blu-ray from Macs

“Now that HD DVD is dead and Sony’s Blu-ray has apparently won the HD media war, why aren’t we seeing Blu-ray drives available as a factory option, at least, for Macintosh computers? I think Steve Jobs is deliberately holding back in a high-stakes gamble for control of HD video distribution,” Robert X. Cringely writes for PBS.

“There’s a tiny chicken-and-egg problem here in that Apple’s professional applications don’t yet support Blu-ray. Maybe they’ll use that as an excuse, if a lame one. Clearly Apple has had plenty of time to make it possible to burn Blu-ray discs. As the dominant hardware and software vendor to the movie industry — an industry EAGER to jump to Blu-ray — it would appear to be in Apple’s interest to be shipping those Blu-ray drives right now. So the fact that they aren’t shipping has to be a conscious decision at Apple where, as we know, most big decisions — conscious or not — are made by Steve Jobs,” Cringely writes.

“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.”

Much more in the full article, including how Cringely thinks Google will help Apple deliver 1080p, here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Mtnmnn” for the heads up.]


  1. Or it could be the fact that Blu-Ray authoring as a technology is still in it’s infantile stages.. Burning is still completely buggy and prone to problems. Apple had best wait until they are able to get it right… Add to the fact that there is not a single Mac or Mac display that is currently shipping that is HDCP compliant which means that Blu-Ray movies WILL NOT play on any current Mac. The list is long for reasons not to have incorporated Blu-Ray yet, Apple is right to have waited.

  2. Gee, could it be that Blu-Ray demands MUCH more power for the laser than a standard optical drive? That doesn’t make much sense for a laptop, which is Apple’s bread and butter.

    The lack of support in pro apps is telling, however. Apple may have its on solution in the works, but more likely, Apple is banking on wireless media rather than all computers having their own drives. The MacBook Air is the perfect example – Apple has set it up to use other PC’s optical drives.

    I doubt Apple is holding back Blu-Ray simply for download reasons. After all, Apple is promoting iTunes as a rental store more than a purchase, and people who have AppleTV will purchase from iTunes anyway. People who want to buy the physical media will still buy the physical media, and most of those people won’t want to view it on their iPhone or Mac – they want to see Blu-Ray in full 1080p on their 60″ flat screen.

  3. Hmm…maybe so but I think it is more the case that BR drives cost a lot. Apple could put them in the MacPro for the heavy hitters, but I think they are more focused on maintaining cost effectiveness in their consumer range.

    Bluray is still expensive and the discs are high cost. Maybe in six months if the price goes down enough.

  4. Well, they’re going to have to include it relatively soon. With the demise of HD DVD, event videographers like me need media that we can put weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries on. Most people don’t want there memories stored on a hard drive; they want a physical disc.

    There’s a lot of competition in the videography field and if using Apple products such as DVD Studio Pro won’t allow for burning HD content then many of us will be forced to switch to Adobe software.

  5. The technology changes so fast that by the time the prices come down on the Blu-Ray media alone, there might be another, cheaper, alternative.

    Besides, DVD is still King with most folks. My external Plextor DVD-DL burner rips and burns much faster than the OEM drive in my Mac Pro. Seems less finicky about scratches and dirt, too.

  6. “Most people don’t want there memories stored on a hard drive; they want a physical disc. “

    And how many clients do you actually run into that already have a Blu-Ray player to play that disc on? My guess would be not many..

    Besides, you can already store up to one hour of HD video footage on a standard DVD disc..

  7. David Pogue is wrong on this one. Physical media is dieing. I stream all of my TV from the internet (with the notable and regrettable exception being live broadcasts.) Movies are not far behind. I give the DVD 2-3 more years before it is surpassed by streaming content.

    MDN Word: Century, as in “DVD’s and other physical media are sooo last century.”

  8. I’m likely not the only one to notice that since the “death” of HD/DVD, the price of HD players has gone down, while that of BlueRay has gone UP. That’s what happens when one has the market to oneself.

    I’m seriously debating just picking up one of those last HD players for use as an up-converter to my plasma, which only does native 1024×768, but scales to accommodate 720P or 1080i. I suspect a BlueRay wouldn’t buy me much.

  9. I believe disks are far from dead and are best kept alive and well. Streaming just doesn’t cut it. Those of you living where you can do that, fine. But many people still live without access to high speed Internet even if they want it. Further, storing things remotely relies solely on other people reliably storing your data. Disks that you yourself can burn and store in a remote location provide an important backup for some people. Disks can also be viewed when computers or Internet connections are not available, especially including at many remote sites. It may have never happened to any of you, but Internet connections do go down. When something is critical and/or cannot be kept on a computer, disks are the logical alternative. If not disks, then some other physical media would have to be available. I am anxiously looking forward to Apple providing BR. I predict they will be an available option at or before the WWDC.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.