Reports suggest that Apple may be working on including H.264 hardware support across its entire line.

Robert Cringely, author of Accidental Empires and InfoWorld columnist, writes that Apple may include H.264 video-decoding hardware to its entire line of PCs to support iTunes and its video distribution efforts.

H.264 is at the heart of Apple's QuickTime software and its iTunes video downloading service.

Cringley notes that until now computers have largely used decoding software, but that including video-decoding hardware in personal computers would mean that computers that do not have adequate memory to support decoding would be able to.

“Soon even the lowliest Mac will be able to effortlessly record in background one or more video signals while the user runs TurboTax on the screen,” says Cringley.

He continues: “In a YouTube world, the new Macs will be a boon to user-produced video, which will, in turn, promote the H.264 standard. By being able to encode in real time, the new Macs will have that American Idol clip up and running faster than could be done on almost any other machine.”

“Add faster video performance to the already best-of-league iChat audio/video chat client, and every new Mac becomes a webcam or a video phone,” he concludes.