Apple's Blu-ray fiasco: the iTunes conflict

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but Blu-Ray is on a collision course with iTunes and something's got to give.

http://www.daveonfilm.com/pics/blu-ray-logo.jpgAs a parent one of the first things you'll come to know and love is Disney movies. Like it or not, if you have kids, Disney will be in your future. This was my foray into Blu-ray.

My old beater DVD player was getting long in the tooth and was donated to my mother-in-law, making a nice spot in my home entertainment cabinet which is now occupied by a new Samsung BD-P3600 ($219 from Amazon) Blu-ray player. It's pretty sweet piece of kit with 1080p, Divx and the ability to stream Blockbuster, Netflix, YouTube and Pandora.

Despite the wheezing coming from my trusty DVD player, it didn't need to be replaced. It was my daughters love of Cars and Finding Nemo that hastened its demise. (While 'Nemo isn't on Blu-Ray yet, Cars is and it's fantastic.) My logic was that if I'm going to purchase a movie that my daughter will re-watch a million times, I'll be damned if I'm going to buy old tech. I buy few movies personally, save for the entire Monty Python catalog, this decision was all about the Disney.

Despite the hype about downloadable/streamable movies, they don't look as good as Blu-ray and there's something to be said for being able to play a movie right now – especially when kids are involved. And there's no substitute for the tactile nature of a Blu-ray disc's case, its cover art allows kids (and adults) to quickly browse and select a title based on the packaging.

Apple's shun of Blu-ray makes no sense. It joined the Blu-Ray association in 2005 yet it ships millions of antiquated "SuperDrives" in it's Mac Pro, iMac, MacBook and Mac mini each year. What gives?

The answer, after the jump...

Jobs famously called Blu-ray a "bag of hurt" in October 2008 stating that Apple's "waiting till things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace." After the iPad announcement in January 2010 Steve Jobs toed the company line, reportedly telling his staff that the company is taking a "wait and see" approach to Blu-ray, waiting to implement it until Blu-ray sales "take off."

If Jobs opposes optical discs idealogically because he thinks that everything should move to the cloud, or some other happy horsepucky, I'd support him. I've previously written that a case can be made for ditching the optical drive completely (much like Apple did with the floppy in 1998).

But that's not what Jobs is saying. He keeps trotting out the same tired excuse that there isn't a big enough market in Blu-ray yet. Really? The number of households with Blu-ray players increased 76 percent, to 17 million in 2009. Take off? I think that the Blu-ray horse has left the barn.

The elephant in the room is iTunes. The Apple content juggernaut allows you to buy and rent movies, TV shows and music (natch). More importantly, Apple gets a cut of every sale and controls the entire process. Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but Blu-ray is on a collision course with iTunes and something's got to give.

It's pretty simple actually, if Apple releases a new Mac with a lame "SuperDrive" it'll be obvious that Apple isn't supporting Blu-ray because of its inherent conflict with iTunes, (a.k.a the Apple lock-in that I wrote about yesterday. Not because Blu-ray hasn't "taken off." Apple should come clean with its customers and not insult our intelligence with b.s. posturing.

What's your take on Apple's lack of support for Blu-ray?