Apple Macs To Finally Get Blu-Ray?


New licensing terms will make it easier for Apple (AAPL) to add Blu-ray drives to its computers. Will it bother?

ZDNet: Companies that wish to make Blu-ray devices will very soon have a less expensive and simpler licensing process, according to a joint announcement on Wednesday from Sony, Philips and Panasonic.

Apple has kept Blu-ray off its Macs (and Apple TV set-top boxes) in part because the licensing was such a pain. Steve Jobs famously described Blu-ray as a “bag of hurt” last year.

Why might Apple want to keep Blu-ray away from Macs forever? Blu-ray is still expensive, and hasn’t really taken off in the market. Only 7% of Netflix’s movie-buff subscribers use Blu-ray, for example.

Moreover, Apple’s iTunes movie rentals and downloads compete with Blu-ray. So if Apple wants consumers to switch from disc-based to digital media as fast as possible, they shouldn’t bother giving Blu-ray an entry into the Mac market.

We imagine some of Apple’s high-end customers, like media studios, might want the ability to read and write Blu-ray discs from their Macs. So maybe Apple will do it anyway to keep them from running Windows.

But we’re not confident they’ll become a standard feature on consumer-focused Macs. Unless, for some reason, Blu-ray technology suddenly becomes immensely more popular.