Is Apple planning to improve the video capabilities on its Mac computers? And is that the mystery “future product transition” Apple alluded to on its Q3 earnings call — one of the reasons it expects margins to be lower this quarter?
From a tipster: “I happen to know that the product transition referred to in Apple’s recent conference call was referring to quicktime encoding/decoding chips built into their products.”
Pure speculation, but worth pondering.
Our understanding is that a QuickTime encoding/decoding chip would handle the grunt work of processing video, presumably in the H.264 format, so that Mac computers’ processors wouldn’t have to do as much heavy lifting. That could be used in any number of cirumstances, such as a live, hi-def iChat AV video chat, watching HD video off the Web, or faster encoding HD video for distribution. (Perhaps the iSight cameras built into MacBooks and iMacs might get a HD upgrade, too.)
Is this plausible? Perhaps. About a decade ago, Apple had format-specific video cards in some computers, like MPEG-2 cards in some PowerBooks/PowerMacs for DVD watching.
But is it necessary now? We don’t know. It’s possible a QuickTime card could make a measurable difference in video processing, especially for encoding. But our new iMac and even our old MacBook seem to already do a pretty good job playing back 1080p hi-def trailers from Apple’s QuickTime site.
(Update: MacRumors’ Arnold Kim points out that the H.264 codec is one of the formats used by Blu-ray; so it’s plausible the QuickTime chip, if real, could play a role in encoding Blu-ray video.)
More important: Is this the “future product transition” that is going to pinch Apple’s margins? We doubt it. It’s hard to see how a small addition to a subset of Apple’s products would be enough to ding the overall company’s margins for a quarter. That’s more likely referring to a much broader upgrade, like significantly redesigned MacBooks, or significant repricing, like cheaper iPod touches to better compete with the iPhone.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.