Is Apple wrong not to support Blu-ray on the Mac?

“According to annual figures released in January by industry trade group the Digital Entertainment Group (DEC), overall home entertainment revenue grew 0.2% in 2012, surpassing $18 billion,” Dennis Sellers reports for Apple Daily Report. “And while DVD sales are way down, Blu-ray is doing well. Strategy Analytics says the global Blu-ray Disc Player market grew 19% in 2012 as consumers continue to migrate from DVD to Blu-ray. The increasing availability of high definition TVs and video content and the lack of sufficient Internet bandwidth in some regions are driving the growth of Blu-ray players, says the research group.”

“For cinephiles like myself, the best of all worlds is in a ‘combo pack,’ a Blu-ray disc that also has (ideally) DVD, iTunes and UltraViolet versions,” Sellers reports. “I guess it’s possible that Apple could put software “hooks” into Mac OS X Mavericks that will allow you to play Blu-ray discs on your Mac with third-party hardware. Alas, those chances are about a million to one.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: 4K Ultra HD (UHD) television plus High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), aka h.265, delivered via cable, satellite, and/or high-speed internet (20+ Mbits/sec) is where the future lies, not conventional Blu-ray Disc on current HDTVs.

‘I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,’ [Steve Jobs] told me. ‘It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.’ No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. ‘It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.’Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs

Blu-ray is a bag of hurt.Steve Jobs, October 14, 2008

Related articles:
Apple to open Mac slots to Blu-ray? – February 27, 2009
OWC debuts faster ‘Quad Interface’ Mercury Pro 8X Blu-ray drives with FireWire 800/400, USB2, eSATA – February 24, 2009
Don’t hold your breath for Blu-ray Macs – October 16, 2008
Live coverage of Apple’s ‘spotlight turns to notebooks’ event – October 14, 2008
Who cares about Blu-ray on Macs? – September 30, 2008
LaCie doubles burn speeds to 4x for d2 Blu-ray Drive – May 27, 2008
Cringely: Why Apple CEO Steve Jobs is holding back Blu-ray from Macs – March 14, 2008
Apple TV 2.0 vs. Blu-Ray, DVD and HD Cable – February 13, 2008
Japanese Mac users get first Mac OS X-friendly Blu-ray burner – August 02, 2006
Roxio Toast 7 for Apple Mac adds Blu-ray support – July 25, 2006

71 Comments

  1. I thought they were wrong and bought a blu-ray burner. In the 2 years of owning it I’ve put a cd in it once. The blank discs still have shrink wrap on them

        1. We pretty much watch 30 channels of free OTA HD broadcast TV, AppleTV programming from iTunes (“Game of Thrones” is awesome without commercials), and Amazon Prime Videos. We’ve been cable-free for years. Our DVD player has been gathering dust for about a year now.

  2. AS I see it, the key problem is keeping the movie houses happy vs content protection. Its why you cannot watch a dvd on your computer on an external monitor. One cannot protect content unless every option along the way hand shakes that no recording devices are attached.

    DRM, sucks big ime in the problems it brings to watching content.
    Just a thought.

    1. I can’t speak to your particular computer setup, but I watch DVD’s in my MacBook Pro on an external monitor relatively often. I’ve never had a problem having the DVD Player in OS X use an external display.

      1. Not every country adopted the draconian DRM and Region Coding schemes. I bought a DVD from Australia and when I inquired about Region Coding, the fellow just laughed and said “Don’t have any. We consider that restraint of trade here.”

    2. When Steve jobs called blu-ray a world of hurt, it was DRM he was referring to. Something he was familiar with since Apple was involved in the blu-ray specifications.

  3. “MacDailyNews Take: 4K Ultra HD (UHD) television plus High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), aka h.265, delivered via cable, satellite, and/or high-speed internet (20+ Mbits/sec) is where the future lies, not conventional Blu-ray Disc on current HDTVs.” In Portugal, where I live, the HD cable channels are 720p. iTunes doesn’t give me tv shows and the movie offer is low. The only way to watch HD content on my mac is by illegal downloads or an external blu-ray connected to the tv. Apple should definitely offer blu-ray on macs.

    1. If you can connect an external Blu-ray player to your Mac! What are you going on about?

      $55 @ OWC:
      http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/MRSSBD6X/?APC=READERSPC&Source=Blast13July

      You can even burn Blu-ray data discs on Mac without a problem. OWC has a burner for $95.

      The DRM-HELL problems occur when you want to BURN Blu-ray MEDIA discs. Then Sony screw you three times over. THAT is why Steve Jobs called Blu-ray ‘A BAG OF HURT’. And he was right.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blu-ray

      1. Macs aren’t cheap, I shouldn’t have to buy an extra external player. And by the way, I don’t find logical that they sell 27 inch iMacs and macbook pros with retina displays and then block ways to view HD. I want to watch breaking bad in HD. In a legal way, I can’t do that with apple.

          1. Yes, I can. But don’t you get my point? Remember those mac ads: “Does everything right out of the box”? Well, now it doesn’t. It doesn’t let me watch my blu-ray discs and iTunes doesn’t sell me movies in my language.

  4. Is this a reprint from 2006? Really Blu-Ray? Buy an external if you want…there are a ton on Amazon from $75 – $150. Apple please don’t put something this big, heavy, and battery space robbing in my next MacBook Pro.

      1. I think at issue is that there is no apple made app to play blurray. Especially since fewer macs even have optical anymore.

        And there are still many places where streaming video is impractical.

  5. There is most definitely software for the Mac that allows everything to be done with a BluRay movie, watching, ripping, transcoding. I don’t think though that watching a BluRay on a Mac is that big a deal.

  6. MacDailyNews Take: “4K Ultra HD (UHD) television plus High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), aka h.265, delivered via cable, satellite, and/or high-speed internet (20 Mbits/sec) is where the future lies, not conventional Blu-ray Disc on current HDTVs.”
    Do not agree at all.

    1. And you shouldn’t.

      For 1080p 24 Blu-ray has a cap of 36 Mbps.

      UHDTV (2160p) is four times the information of HDTV (1080p). True 4K is even higher. Add in the new deep color formats supported by both 2160p and 4K standards and you get even more data — think 5 or more times that of “standard” HDTV (1080p).

      HEVC (H.265) is approximately twice as efficient as AVC (H.264) used in most Blu-ray disk (the majority of the rest us VC-1, an even worse compression scheme once promoted by Microsoft).

      So, if UHDTV & 4K are 5 times the information and HEVC is trice as good at compressing — that’s still 2.5 times the information rate as a Blu-ray disk. And 36 Mbps times 2.5 is 90 Mbps.

      How many people have a 90 Mbps connection? Damn few. With all the inherent overhead a link that is currently advertised as “100 Mbps” just won’t cut it.

      Even if you have a gigabit per second connection — think of the server end. How many server sites can support 10,000 (as a conservative number, it could be 100 times that) 90 Mbps streams? (Just for the quick arithmetic — That is 0.9 Tbps or 24 OC-768 connections!)

      Will the Internet eventually get there? Yes. In the next 3-5 years? Highly unlikely.

  7. I saw my first 4K tv in an electronics store about a month ago. It was eerie and really, really beautiful. People who say you can’t tell the difference between it and 1080 or 720 are high on crack. It was awesome.

    1. Yes.. but don’t expect what you saw in the store to translate to your home experience… Whatever you watch at home will be severely compressed..as opposed to the possibly totally uncompressed version you saw in the store.

      And if you are planning on streaming 4K,… well.. good luck.

  8. To hell with blu-ray. I did buy a player a couple of years ago. I have used it probably 10 to 15 times since then, if that. I even upgraded by Netflix subscription to Blu-ray. What a fiasco. The disc forces you to look at commercials before it allows you to get to the content. Disk sometimes don’t even load. Even getting a replacement disk from Netflix, did not fix the issue with that one title. Sure, the quality is great, but the latency that it takes to actually get to watch your desired content grossly outweighs the perceived benefit in quality. I have been using iTunes with my Apple TV 2 and never touch the dusty Blu-ray player that is simply sitting in place unused. Delicate media for a slow inflexible device. It’s crap I tell you.

  9. Considering the 1080i isn’t even close to being fully integrated, 4K Ultra HD (UHD) television is a decade away or more. It MIGHT be the future, but I want right here and now, not some future fantasy.

    1. Nope, its closer than you think. I work for a leading developer/vendor of broadcast hardware and software solutions for the evolving broadcast industry. Our products are widely distributed and integrated in the facilities of the largest broadcasters & distributors around the world. I assure you the momentum is building.

      1. Nope, it’s more likely further away than you think. I don’t doubt what you say about the broadcast industry and, in fact, I would be surprised if it weren’t so… but it’s a horse of a different color.

        Now I can’t speak for David, but I’m sure he’s referring to widespread consumer adoption, and in that regard he is absolutely correct.

        A lot of families are only just now getting rid of household 2nd or 3rd, 4:3 analog TVs and replacing them with 16:9 HDTVs… mostly smaller 720p models. The vast majority of HDTVs in American households have been purchased in the last six years or less. They’ve already spent hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars and aren’t going to be updating their current HDTVs to 4K until it’s price tag comes down to (or below) current 1080p levels.

        MDN’s take on the future is just that… a “take”… on the future.

        1. You can buy an UHDTV set (I absolutely will not call them 4K sets as “4K” is a Digital Cinema standard that is distinctly different from UHDTV) for under $5,000 today. People buying them are the rare videophile.

          In a couple years you’ll be able to buy them for less than $3,000. At that time they will open up to the consumer space. In no more than five years (possibly as soon as two years) you’ll see UHDTV systems for less than $2,000. At that time it will REALLY be a consumer device.

          Yes, it *might* take 10 years for an UHDTV to get below $1,000. However, it could happen in 5 – 6 years. When that price point is broken (and it WILL be broken), expect UHDTV to take over.

          Broadcast — especially over the air broadcast — is not what will drive UHDTV. Recorded and unattended downloaded media will. People are slowly moving away from the major networks. People are downloading or buying media.

          And for those who claim, “There’s no source material at UHDTV!!!” You can buy a 3CCD UHDTV camera today for less than $30,000. Thus such a source capability is not even out of the range of small, independent film studios.

          1. Having watched the adoption rates of DVD, Blu-ray, and HDTV, I think it is extraordinarily optimistic to say that widespread consumer adoption of UHDTV could occur in 5 – 6 years. And by widespread, I mean something like at least a 50-60% saturation of all U.S. households.

            Possible… yes. Likely… not so much.

            Industry adoption is a different matter.

            I wouldn’t be so quick to discount broadcast – especially OTA. When “cord cutting” is mentioned when discussing TV, it is the cord that attaches a TV to cable or satellite that is being referenced. What do you think is taking up that “cut cord” slack? Some of it is smart TVs connecting to Netflix, Hulu, etc., but a good part of it is being fulfilled by OTA broadcasting. OTA antenna sales have been going up.

            As for UHD recorded content, there will not be another Hi-def media format that will receive widespread consumer acceptance. Despite its success, Blu-ray has not achieved anywhere near the household saturation that DVD did… and I’m saying this as Blu-ray fan and supporter.

            As for unattended download content, well… ISPs (who always seem to be ignored in these equations) are going to have a significant impact on how well that will work… and the cost. It’s going to require big pipes with big data plans at an affordable cost… and how widespread do you think that might be in 5 – 6 years? In all likelihood, not very. Current networks aren’t going to be able to handle it.

            ISPS (and you can throw cable/satellite providers in there as well) have no incentive to make substantial changes (upgrades) to their networks. They’re making a fortune with the status quo.

  10. Yes, absolutely. Blu Ray remains the best way to play and archive high definition video. Apple has effectively given away the video editing market to Windows by not supporting the most capable optical disc format.

    When the last RedBox shuts down, and everyone in the nation has high-speed internet, then Apple would be right to turn the page. Unfortunately, Apple missed the boat altogether on TRUE high definition media, which is 1080p and higher. Apple TV does not cut the mustard, folks.

    1. I agree with you Blu-ray as of now is still the best way to view a movie in hi-def on a big screen monitor. Streaming and digital downloads are the long term future, but a lot has to change for a lot of people for it to be the best way to consume content. First off I pay over $50/mo for 18Mbs download and at best get between 6 & 9Mbs. If we are ultimately going to move to 4k viewing off the internet than the providers need to offer like 100Mbs for $50 or less and it should be easily available to all, which many places still can’t even get anything over 6Mbs this just doesn’t cut it. Blu-ray has it’s place for now along with digital content.

      1. Technically, yes, but availability is spotty for many reasons, including ISP throttling and content owner restrictions. Apple says:

        “Apple TV requires an 802.11g/n Wi-Fi network or Ethernet network, a broadband Internet connection, and a HD TV capable of 1080p or 720p, and an HDMI cable that is sold separately. iTunes movie and TV show availability varies by country. Second generation Apple TV users can install the new Apple TV user interface via a free software update, available today. Third generation Apple TV hardware is required to play 1080p video.

        *Content availability varies by country and may require account subscriptions.”

  11. Ok, they still do not see it yet. You can’t stream 4K HDTV from a Blu-ray player. GOOD NEWS!!! Apple is making a Mac Pro that can stream two 4K HDTV streams in your home and Apple will stream the 4K HDTV media to those home servers from Apple’s 5 or more BILLION DOLLAR SERVER FARMS that are built with huge solar farms and fuel cell backups.

    Can you see it now?

    Steve Jobs moves to where the technology will be. Samsung and the rest will follow after it happens!

    1. The problem with your comment has nothing to do with Apple. Apple’s technology (both the data center as well as in the living room) will certainly handle the 4K video. The problem is getting the data from their Data Center to the living room. Apple still has to rely on the carriers and until they can increase the bandwidth at a reasonable cost to support streaming 4K video then there will be a market for some kind of physical media.

  12. Blu-Ray should have been included years ago as I feel besides consumer uses professionals out there were authoring Blu-Rays and external units can have their problems. We are only in the last year or so seeing some decent Blu-Ray software players for the Mac. The problem with 4K is three fold – cheaper large 4K sets, 4K production set up in television (they only fairly recently ramped up to HD), 4K delivery and media. Plus with Blu-Ray you had storable disks. Downloads have to be stored on hard drives and how many hard drives will you have to own for a decent library? How long will a download take? Can you “own” movies in the cloud and download them when you want to view them? Isn’t grabbing a library Blu-Ray disk off a shelf and put into a player quicker? Why isn’t a 4K Blu-Ray payer an option? Until Broadband speed increases substantially you can’t live stream 4K yet and probably not in the foreseeable future. BTW I agree about the horrible studio abuses with disks making it hard to get past trailers and previews. That’s why I loved laser disks in the day – start the disk and the movie starts, period!

    BTW I’m no Luddite and actually work in production but all the pieces of the 4K puzzle have yet to be worked out and will take time to implement, probably years.

    1. h.265 solves a big part of the problem. Streaming video is feasible today with 720p and h.264 and people do it all time with Netflix. As you likely already know, h.265 enables double the quality compared to h.264 (or equal quality at half the bytes) and will be available in consumer products within a year.

      That’s a huge step forward, but it may still seem to fall short of enabling 4K streaming at today (or near future) broadband speeds. But keep in mind 4k is of such a higher resolution, that compression can be significantly higher before artifacts of compression are optically visible. A 4K video compressed for broadband with h.265 is still going to look much better than a 720p video compressed for broadband in h.264 – even if they are the same number of bytes – because the sheer difference of resolution creates a “retina” effect where pixels and compression artifacts are too small to be perceived. These videos will simply look amazing.

  13. Blu-Ray is the least of my problems. Iust outfitted my small design office with new 27″ iMacs, and the lack of built-in drives is DEFINITELY a problem. We have software that needs to be installed, CDs of stock photos, backups stored on CD and DVD, and on and on.

    We have an external reader/recorder, but it’s a pain to work with.

    On a desktop machine, there is exactly ZERO practical reasons to eliminate an optical drive (laptops are a different story, of course). Looking at my iMac, I can’t even tell it’s an inch thinner, since I view it head-on. And it doesn’t look THAT much better that I’m happy to give up the functionality of a CD/DVD player.

    There are weeks that go by that I don’t need to touch an optical disc. When for those few occasions when I need to, having to find and plug in an external drive is a major pain in the butt.

    1. Can you explain a bit more about why the external optical drive is “a pain to work with”? I can see how that could be an issue with laptops, where the computer is moved around frequently, but I’m having a hard time figuring out the problem with leaving the drive plugged in on a desktop (if it’s used frequently) or in a nearby drawer (if it’s used rarely).

      About 9 out of 10 of the iMacs at my office never use their built in optical drives. We use dropbox and s3 storage, but some one of our odder clients insists on mailing us DVD’s of content on occasions. If leaving off the optical drive cuts hardware costs (eventually), cuts the number of moving parts that could fail, and makes the computer easier to store and move, I just don’t see the problem with the 1 out 10 iMac having an optical drive sitting on the desk next to it.

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