Cringely: Why Blu-ray is Late on Macs

Apple is stalling on Blu-ray for Macs because the company needs time to bring its HD movie offerings up to 1080p in order to compete, according to Robert X. Cringely at PBS on Friday.

" 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, Iim guessing Apple is working madly to deploy its own 1080p download solution and is hoping the world will wait for it," Mr. Cringely wrote.

However, that jump is a major challenge for Apple. File sizes grow dramatically, about 4x compared to its current SD offerings and about 2x compared to 720p.

The author sees a way out, however. "The download impact problem will probably be solved with a new iTunes infrastructure based not on Akamai but on Google," Mr. Cringely suggested. "All those new Google data centers have to be for something more than just search and I have long surmised that their real intent is video distribution through peering deals with ISPs. This will be where the Apple-Google alliance finally shows itself."

The subject of the H.264 hardware decoder chip came up again. [Mr. Cringely had predicted previously that new Macs would be getting such a chip.] That will give Macs added horsepower for 1080p video.

The gist was that if Apple can stall long enough, get this distribution system working for 1080p, and sell an Apple TV for less than a Blu-ray player, their mainstream customers will never have to even think about Blu-ray and only the die hard techies will complain.

There has been a persistent demand from many Mac users for Blu-ray drives, especially now that the war with HD DVD is over. Now the issue will be whether Appleis estimate of the needs and desires of most of its customers is spot on or whether theyire letting corporate agenda get in the way of what customers want.