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Rumor Has It: iTunes 9 Coming Next Month With Blu-ray Support

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The Boy Genius Report is claiming to have received a tip that Blu-ray support will be coming to iTunes 9, which may be arriving as soon as next month. Also reportedly in iTunes 9 is the long sought-after ability to arrange iPhone/iPod touch icon positions from within iTunes, instead of having to do it on the device itself. In addition, there will be some kind of integration with Twitter/Facebook and Last.FM — presumably this would allow sending the currently playing song to the social-networking sites, removing the need to run a separate application to do this.

Combine this claim with another rumor this week, this time from Apple Insider, which claims that new features will be coming to the iMac that will cater to the semi-professional audio/video crowd. Lets not forget that since iTunes 8.2, the Gracenote copyright also references Blu-ray. Are the stars aligning to where we will finally get Blu-ray?

The lack of built-in Blu-ray support has been a much-debated topic by Mac users. Steve Jobs himself claimed in October last year that “Blu-ray is just a bag of hurt. It’s great to watch the movies, but the licensing of the tech is so complex, we’re waiting till things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace.” Is it possible that nearly a year later things have finally settled down? In February this year Sony, Phillips and Panasonic announced a simplified licensing process for Blu-ray that also included cheaper fees. With more and more content being released for Blu-ray, is the time finally ripe for adoption?

There is still seemingly one hurdle in the path of Apple (s aapl) embracing Blu-ray: the strict Digital Rights Management requirements. In a crazy DRM world, it seems that the copyright powers are trying to compromise by allowing one authorized copy starting next year — however, downloading to iPods and portable devices is strictly excluded.

The bigger question for me is still: “Why do I want or need Blu-ray anyway?” It is much easier for me to download high-definition video content than clutter my house with more physical discs. How many people really need Blu-ray?

31 Responses to “Rumor Has It: iTunes 9 Coming Next Month With Blu-ray Support”

  1. Ok, so if blue ray isn’t important, why have a optical drive at all on a mac? Oh, that is right… computers are about choice. I find it frustrating that Dell one ups my mac with hdmi and blueray. I hate Dell, but at least they give you, the consumer the option. Flexibility is key, I want technology support for items I already have. I don’t want to buy a digital f’n copy of a blue ray I already have just to watch in my bed room or buy a blueray player and a tv to replace my mac. I want apple to say,”oh you want that, ok.” I hope they make a change soon otherwise dell and evil glitch windows gets my business not for superiority but for sheer choice.

  2. Interesting discussion, but I must chime in and say that bluray definitely has its place for so many reasons. I don’t want to write an essay here, but…

    1. its not that expensive. bluray discs today have already dropped to the price of dvd’s just 6 months to a year ago and it took a very short time. i remember new dvd’s a few years ago were $25 and up. the bluray discs i have in my collection were all less than $15, some less than $10. yes, dvd’s are in a firesale now for like $2-$5, but that is bec/ retailers are moving towards bluray and trying to get rid of dvd’s. remember audio cassettes?
    2. the clarity and sound is on another planet. if you are watching on a 13 in laptop, then maybe it doesn’t matter to you. but on a larger screen, its hard to even watch a dvd or sd download after getting used to bluray. its not just to ‘count the pores’ on actors’ faces. the overall warmth and clarity is heightened and i find myself noticing more subtle movements and nuances from the actors’ performances than i did before. much wider gamut of colors. don’t knock it before you try it in your own home on an hd display. sound is uncompressed and you can hear the difference. any torrent or hd video you download even 1080p has compressed both video and especially sound, and its close but just not the same as the actual bluray disc. for some, that is important.
    3.ubiquitous bandwidth is not yet here, and not a reality for many. most of the isp’s are already shaping traffic and imposing caps. in many places like parts of europe, asia and south africa, bandwidth is charged by use. fees are exorbitant. some friends tell me they literally think twice before watching a youtube video. nothing is free — someone has to pay whether it is you (fees), the isp (bandwidth) or the content providers ($$). i am a heavy downloader, but for some of my favorite films i keep a watch on prices and often buy my favorites on bluray when they are cheap. now in a world where there is literally unlimited bandwidth and speed everywhere with smart home media devices to take advantage of it, then sure, you don’t really need bluray. but its not here yet.

    an anecdote. i decided to download an hd movie and watch it with my wife. i have a 20mb/s fast connection, usually works fantastically. download started, about half way through it hung and seemed to never finish. wasn’t my internet connection, because it was working. already had paid my money. an hour later the window of time for wanting to watch a movie was passing. i headed over to blockbuster and had the bluray in hand and back home and watching in less than 15 minutes. stuff happens, and online hd is great when it works, but sometimes it just doesn’t. (granted, i understand that the opposite happens when you want to avoid lines at blockbuster! ;) )

    in my opinion, they need to drop the prices of online video big time to make it worth it. pretty soon blurays are going to be $10 and less.

  3. I still prefer physical content – on DVD. Blu-Rays are expensive and unnessecary. And downloading movies is far more expensive than buying or renting discs.
    For example 4€ for a movie in the iTunes Store? Have they gone crazy?

  4. I’m waiting for the interactive hologram z-ray player that will be integrated into Mac OS XX 2 and iTunes 45!

    How many more pores do you want to count on actor’s faces? There is a point where clarity of picture becomes a distraction to the narrative that is being framed. 720p through iTunes is more than adequate for me but if you like counting pores then go for it.

    As you may have noticed I have no interest in Blu-Ray nor do I plan to add another piece of arcane equipment to my set-up. Shiny discs were DOA with the advent of broadband delivery of hi-definition content. Unless you really enjoy the 20th century…

  5. Yeah, I don’t even understand what “Blu-Ray support” means for iTunes; do you really think anyone is going to allow copying a BR disk? The most one can hope for is the ability to play one via the DVD Player, but either way, it would require a BR-compatible disk drive, which no Mac yet has. So what are you talking about?

  6. Paul Frederickson

    I don’t see the point of Blu-Ray iTunes support, it doest really have DVD support.. it’s not like you can rip them anyway. I would be more impressed by BD support announced as a surprise for the DVD player application in snow leopard.

  7. I apologise if this question seems silly, but will my existing optical drive in my iMac be able to play Blue-ray discs? Also, does the screen/monitor itself need to be compatible to get the best output?

    • Paul Frederickson

      If this is somehow true, you will need a Blu-ray drive, the regular DVD drive will not read BD discs. In my opinion before iTunes support would be available, new macs would need to come with Blu-ray drives built in.

      As far as monitor support, the new iMacs have a screen resolution of 1680×1050 (20″) which is technically HD already.

    • No, you need a dedicated drive.

      The name Blu-ray Disc derives from the blue-violet laser used to read the disc. While a standard DVD uses a 650 nanometre red laser, Blu-ray uses a shorter wavelength, a 405 nm blue-violet laser, and allows for almost six times more data storage than on a DVD.

  8. Bluray has no value to me. Optical drives are out of fashion and have been for some time for me. Like the author wrote. Downloading content is much more appealing to me. Same for music. It no use buying a physical CD since i rip it the minute i get home into iTunes.

  9. Howie Isaacks

    I wonder if this will make it necessary for Apple to change the name of iTunes to meet the changing feature set. I’ve often wondered why Apple hasn’t done away with the DVD player app. They could simply bundle that functionality into iTunes. The challenge would be to make sure that iTunes does not become so loaded down with multiple functions that it launches slowly.

    • And it’s already incredibly slow and bloated with interface elements all over the place. Not only that, but it doesn’t play half of the movie codecs that are out there, let alone show subtitles.
      Even for playing my home-produced quicktime movies, I wouldn’t dream of playing them with iTunes. It’s just not a video app.
      I’m not saying I wouldn’t like iTunes 9 to become a video app, just that it needs a serious, serious overhaul.

  10. I rent discs from Netflix, so I’d love to be able to play Blu-ray discs from Netflix rental on my Mac mini, which is already hooked to my HDTV. However, I would hate having to use iTunes as the application to play them (it’s just too big and clunky). Maybe just integrating Blu-ray capabilities into the DVD player would be more streamlined and easier to use.

  11. While I agree that I’d prefer to just download or stream movies over the Internet, I’m guessing Blu-ray is going to be around a handful of years. Today if you watch a lot of movies online, it’s pretty easy to start bumping into the limitations on choices compared to physical media. I would attribute those limitations to the distribution chain dragging their feet on releases and the mainstream population not being so far up the online movie watching adoption curve.

    It seems to me the perfect bridge is a online device that also offers Blu-ray. Those features on AppleTV would be cool, but I’d actually like to have the full capabilities of a Mac mini at the heart of my home entertainment center. If the Mac mini offered Blu-ray, I’d be first in line to buy one.

  12. Dumb-dumb

    I have a new MBP 17″ with HD screen. I have no interest in buying Blu-ray’s, but would love the option to rent them. DVD upscaling is just no match, plus HD from iTunes is not full HD (oh, and I have to wait a month longer to rent movies compared to my local Blu-ray rental store.

    • I agree, Blu-ray is much higher quality than anything (currently) available for download, from iTunes or anywhere else. The downloaded files aren’t bad, but if you really care about video and audio quality, and if you like all of the bonus features included, there is no substitute for Blu-ray right now.

      A 17″ MacBook Pro w/Blu-ray would be my dream laptop. I’m waiting with cash in hand.