Apple Getting iTunes Ready for Blu-ray?

Apple Getting iTunes Ready for Blu-ray?

Apple may have been one of the early backers of Blu-ray, signing on to the Blu-ray camp back before the Blu-ray/HD-DVD format war had even ignited, let alone fizzled out. But Apple CEO Steve Jobs has previously described the licensing involving in Blu-ray technology as a “bag of hurt,” and Apple still isn’t offering any sort of Blu-ray options on any of its Macintosh computers—although third parties have stepped up to offer Blu-ray players and burners for Macs.

Now, Apple has updated the beta version of its forthcoming iPhone 3.0 software available to developers, and—yes, we know it sounds unrelated—the update includes a pre-release version of iTunes 8.2 that implies (via licensing acknowledgments in its About box) Apple is getting ready to support Blu-ray playback in its high-profile media application.

The discovery has led to speculation that Apple is getting ready to offer Blu-ray drives in its Macintosh computers, and an announcement could come at Apple’s now sold-out World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June, where Apple is expected to introduce its iPhone 3.0 software and Mac OS 10.6, a.k.a Snow Leopard. As usual, the famously-secretive Cupertino company is aswirl in rumors about what may or may not be introduced at WWDC: during its recently quarterly earnings call Apple’s Tim Cook bluntly dismissed the idea Apple would get into the netbook market, but speculation has (once again) settled on the notion of an Apple touch tablet of some sort: bigger than an iPod touch, but smaller than a notebook.

iTunes’ support for Blu-ray media may also only be peripheral to the Macintosh: although the Mac faithful don’t talk about it much, iTunes is a major media playback application on Windows too (thanks to all the Windows users carrying iPods and iPhones); Apple’s move to support Blu-ray may not signal any fundamental change in Apple’s hardware ecosystem, but rather a nod to the growing number of PCs that offer Blu-ray drives.

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