HD 1080p Apple Movie Downloads to Kill HD DVD/Blu-ray?

Posted by Tyler Pruitt on January 10, 2008 
Filed Under: Blu-ray, Format War, HD DVD, Mac, PC

Apple_Logo.jpgWhile Robert X. Cringely was thinking the Apple TV might be a worthy opponent to HD DVD/Blu-ray, I think the whole iTunes user base could be the real threat to both HD formats. If Steve announces 1080p HD movie/TV downloads at Macworld in a few days, we would have a new huge group of people in the market for purchasing HD content without having to buy new hardware.

Anyone with a MacBook/MacBook Pro would have an HD movie machine already sitting on their lap. Both notebooks already support hooking up to a 1080p HDTV via a DVI to HDMI cable + digital optical audio output via headphone jack adapter. There would be no HDCP video card required, unlike what HD DVD/Blu-ray equipped PCs/Laptops require. I think the market could explode overnight, as long as Apple charges the same as they do now. A $9.99 1080p HD catalog movie download seems very reasonable, compared to what HD DVD/Blu-ray catalog titles cost at stores like Best Buy/Circuit City.

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19 Responses to “HD 1080p Apple Movie Downloads to Kill HD DVD/Blu-ray?”

  1. Pravin on January 10th, 2008 2:24 am

    An AppleTV that does all or most of the media center kinds of stuff that’s been demonstrated or proposed for the Xbox 360 and PS3 could do really well. Not everyone is into gaming, so they may not be inclined to consider a 360 or a PS3, but a product with “TV” in its name is an easier sell. The next big selling point would be the popularity of the Apple brand and iTunes.

  2. The Guardian on January 10th, 2008 4:40 am

    Nobody has yet explained to me why I should waste my entire monthly bandwidth allowance to watch at most two movies, which incidentally even at max speed would take days to download.

    Sure the picture will be better than the previous 720p download plan but the bandwidth/space/time issues are worse now.

  3. Jeff on January 10th, 2008 5:05 am

    HD content is nice to download, but I am guessing even with 1080p picture we won’t be able to get full lossless audio (PCM 5.1 or TrueHD or DTS-MA) on a downloaded track. Hi def is best with audio *and* video at its best.

  4. Henning on January 10th, 2008 5:09 am

    The problem is that Apple’s movie & tv show downloads are NOT available outside the USA, and knowing these kinds of services, won’t be for a loooooooong time.

    Also – how are you going to justify the approximately 20 Gigabytes required to store each movie on harddrives? What about backup?

  5. zeiss on January 10th, 2008 5:18 am

    As a film collector, I like to keep the movies on the shelf. Love the cover, the disc, the sense of taking the movie in my hand. Hey, I even keep some super-8 prints in my collection!

    Hard drives are not sexy, and a MacBook Pro is more expensive than any HD player out there, so the inversion in hardware is necessary too.

    I like to purchase the discs too, and by purchasing I mean going to a place with lots of them and making my selection, not sitting in front of the computer for doing almost anything…

    My 2 cents.

  6. Merrick97 on January 10th, 2008 6:14 am

    This notion of movie downloads taking over is getting OLD. It will probably happen eventually.

    Have mp3s killed cds? No.

    People like to collect things.

    I dont get why the HD-DVD camp who touts interactive features and such is now saying that featureless 1080p downloads are the way to go.

    James and Tyler PLEASE enlighten me

  7. Wishtar on January 10th, 2008 7:17 am

    I’ve been hearing alot of talk about movie downloads being the next big thing and why do we need a physical format anyway. So we spend hours to download a movie and it sits on our harddrive. Ok.. fine but even the largest harddrive has limited space and eventually all harddrives fail and there goes your whole movie collection. But then you could backup all of your movies on to say… disks. Wow, what a pain that would be. Wouldn’t it be really great if you could purchase movies already on a disk and then maybe they can add some bonus stuff and package them in a nice pretty box. That would be a great idea.

  8. AC on January 10th, 2008 8:38 am

    @ Merrick97 Have CD’s been killed by mp3′s? Not entirely, but CD’s are on life-support. Take the time to look at the trend lines for each format over the last 5 years and you will see a precipitous decline in CD sales and an equally sharp rise in music downloads. Here’s just one of several reasons for this shift: you can buy a single song instead of needing to buy an entire album ( Another reason? You can do it from home or work or anywhere that you have an internet connection. This heightened ubiquity and convenience will be two reasons that movie downloads will win over physical copies of movies. As well, in a world of the +$100 barrel of oil electronic distribution will contribute to a lower cost base and broader selection of titles.
    All of the pirate copies of movies that are already online should tells you that the future is already happening, it’s just not in your living room yet.

    @Wishtar, regarding the storage of digital media I’d request that you consider Moore’s law respecting hard disk (or flash) storage cost per unit of information–also known as Kryder’s law. In short, if you were to look at the cost/size of storage you’ll see a number that’s not getting larger, but increasingly getting much smaller. And you can add to that the amount of data coming out of an optical fibre/cost (Butter’s law). All of these “laws” point to a future where the concerns you express about storing HD movie media are as misplaced as a similar set of concerns voiced over 5 years ago about the storage of music files.

  9. Pravin on January 10th, 2008 9:36 am

    Think more along the lines of people who do the video-on-demand and rental models, and not those who maintain collections of discs. These people don’t necessarily care about keeping the movies around much longer than the initial viewing. For the disc collectors (and bonus material fans), there’s no replacement for physical media.

  10. Dave Cowl on January 10th, 2008 9:56 am

    Bandwidth and storage aspects aside, I would bet that studios would not allow 1080p with no HDCP between the ‘PC’ and the display. The source PC would need to be HDMI. I also agree that the collectors mentality as well as the impulse buy are lost with a VOD or DL delivery. The 100+ BDs I have but have not watched yet would never have been purchased in the download model. There may be some impulse with MP3s but a movie takes a lot more time investment. Also the quality is likely to be lower (bitrate based). Maybe it will eat into the rental market, but for sell through I think packaged media rules.

  11. Ben Drawbaugh on January 10th, 2008 10:50 am

    What makes you think Apple will even do 1080p movie downloads?

  12. Tyler Pruitt on January 10th, 2008 11:28 am

    Its a train of inevitability. Just like what the BDA
    says about Blu-ray ;)

  13. James Segars on January 10th, 2008 11:28 am

    Merrick: I don’t think that digital downloads for movies make much sense, at least not right now. I myself will most likely always be a physical media guy. I don’t see the HD DVD camp as a whole tossing in their vote for digital downloads. Can you clarify? Are you talking about the fans, or the people behind the tech?

  14. Dave Cowl on January 10th, 2008 11:51 am

    I think he is more talking about the rabid fans who are promoting the idea of downloads in preference to paying Sony a single cent. I think a lot of the zealots (perhaps on both sides) have agendas that are not related to the enjoyment of movies and quality of presentation.

  15. Karl Williams on January 10th, 2008 6:02 pm

    I have Mac Pro, AppleTV, and PS3. Wtih that disclouse out of the way, I can say this:
    1) No one will be using a Mac Pro, Macbook Pro, or Macbook to watch downloaded 1080p movies on the TV. Well… not anyone I would consider “sane”. They could possibly do so with a Mac Mini.
    2) The current AppleTV only supports 1080i or 720p content decoding. And it can only output 720p.

    In here the U.S, it will be at least a couple of years before the new high bandwidth internet services start really getting deployed. Right now they are only in “test” markets.

  16. Tyler Pruitt on January 10th, 2008 8:59 pm


    I guess I’m insane then ;)

  17. Belard on January 12th, 2008 3:43 am

    While there is some market for DL movies/videos – mostly for portable players or one time watching (I’ve used VOD for free 3 times in 1 year with my DVR) – Its nothing compared to my 500+ DVD collection.

    Why DL movies won’t be replacing Media:

    1 – DL movies are DRM’ed attached to your account (as long as its active) or your PC (Windows/Mac whatever).
    1a – if you upgrade your PC – you risk losing your collection
    1b – if your PC fails – you risk losing your collection
    1c – if a virus eats your PC – you risk losing your collection

    2 – Hard drive space. Without “extras” – A HiDef movie may eat 15~25GB of HD space. Today’s $100 500GB drives would hold 25 movies… that’s it!

    3 – Portable : In most people’s home – there maybe 3 DVD/TV setups – without NETWORKING. Its easy, take the movie off the shelf and play it in the desired room. (Kids room, family room, etc)

    4 – Mobile : Want to go watch a movie at a friend place? What take your desktop to your friend’s home? Easy with a DVD, grab and go. I took my Blade Runner Collector’s edition to a birthday party at a friend home. We watched the movie and some extras and they liked the packaging extras… 2-3 people are going to buy the same thing now.

    5 – Optical Recorded media is not the same quality as those mass-produced… there is limited life. That’s why home-made PC recovery discs rarely work – the become corrupt.

    6 – Impulse buy : I may buy 5 movies or box-sets at a time. Even with my cable-modem, at best it will take me 30min per 1GB… x 20GB = 10hrs to DL a single movie!

    7 – I wonder if the industry is looking at the piracy numbers? Most of the same people WILL NEVER buy a DRM (or not) movie… they want it for free to burn onto a 20 cent disc! Music is different. $1 per song. CDs don’t have extras, and more people don’t care. And we see how the NON-DRM music is now hitting the market. A typical song is 3-5megs each. Very tiny, portable sound file.

  18. jabberwolf on March 11th, 2008 8:30 pm

    Who said that Apple has 1080 downloads is a tard.

    They dont…. they have HD… 720 HD but not 1080.

    Get your facts straight THEN write an article.

  19. Tyler Pruitt on March 11th, 2008 8:36 pm


    If you looked at the article date, I posted this story BEFORE Apple announced they would offer movie downloads.

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