Industry analysts don’t think it will be long before Apple puts a Blu-ray drive in an Intel-based Mac.
"Apple’s past practices favour bringing new optical technologies to professional systems first," said Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox. "DVD-RAM and DVD-R formats are excellent examples."
Ross Rubin, director of analysis at market-research firm NPD Group, agrees that Apple will add the drive to the professional machines first. However, noting that Intel-based pro desktops have yet to appear, he predicts Blu-ray drives won't wind up in Apple systems for a few more months.
"January would be good – the timing for that would work out pretty well," Rubin said. "It comes down to the introduction cycle, but we would see it in desktops first, no doubt."
Technology Business Research senior analyst Tim Deal believes Apple will shy away from adding a Blu-ray optical drive to any of its consumer Macs. His reason for this conclusion is the format war. Blu-ray isn't the only new optical disc format in the equation. Blu-ray and HD DVD are competing optical disc formats aimed at storing large amounts of high-definition video. The competition between the two standards pits some of the biggest companies in the technology industry against one another. Blu-ray is supported by consumer electronics vendors Sony and Panasonic as well as PC vendors Dell and Apple. HD DVD is backed by Toshiba, NEC, Intel, and Microsoft.
"[The format war] will cause confusion in the market, which will ultimately mean slow acceptance of the technologies in the consumer market," he said.
But that doesn’t mean Apple will avoid adopting Blu-ray until after the smoke clears in the format battle, analysts add. "Apple is an active participant in the Blu-ray consortium, and they didn't let the last format war between DVD- and DVD+ stop them from moving ahead with the drive," NPD Group’s Rubin said. "I don’t see them rushing to support both - typically Apple supports one and they support it well."