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Innovation

Did Jobs diss HD camcorder makers?

According to a Dow Jones news story, Apple CEO Steve Jobs railed against the quality of HD video camcorders. Except that he didn't.
Written by David Morgenstern, Contributor on

According to a Dow Jones report released on Tuesday, Aug. 13, Apple CEO Steve Jobs jabbed the manufacturers of HD camcorders at last week's introduction of the new iMacs in Cupertino. Except, I was there that day and heard a different story — or none at all.

Here's how the Dow Jones' article describes the story:

Last week, at an event to introduce Apple's new line of computers, Jobs suggested that high-definition camcorders are having trouble producing top- quality video for personal computers. Jobs' motive was unclear; he wasn't returning emails messages, and Apple representatives said they weren't commenting beyond what Jobs said during a presentation last week.

Here's what really happened:

Jobs demonstrated the new iMovie '08 video editing software and showed how it integrates with a new .Mac capability called .Mac Web Gallery. This supports sharing photos and movies in different resolutions, including one called "large."

"The large resolution is higher resolution than a DVD," he said in his presentation.

In a Q&A session following the presentation, someone asked why users couldn't "upload HD video" to the .Mac Web Gallery.

Here was Jobs' response:

"It turns out that the HD camcorders don't yet have sensors that are full HD. They produce images that are slightly lower resolution than HD. They are still stellar. And so, we use that resolution which is close to HD but not quite HD. That's the best you can capture right now with an under $!0,000 camera."

That is in no way a shot at the manufacturers of HD camcorders. Since when is "stellar" a pejorative?

Jobs gave a mostly technological response. He referred to the capabilities of camcorders in the market segment that iLife '08 targets: you and me. And these were the products that he described in his presentation.

Take a look at the list of camera and media formats that iMove '08 supports. It's a long list.

The problem with the Dow Jones story is that it's all about the definition of "high-definition." And that is a totally different and problematic story.

High-definition is all about viewing resolutions, bit-depths, competing compression algorithms, and a confusing table of hardware and software standards. Sometimes, it's also about what looks good.

For most people, HD is just video that looks better" than what came before, plain ordinary digital video.

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