Apple could test limited iTunes HD+ 1080p movie service

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Apple as early as this fall may choose to test the waters for 1080p video sales through its ubiquitous iTunes service, AppleInsider has been advised.



Thus far, 1080p HD content has largely eluded users of Apple products, with HD versions of videos on the company's digital download service maxing out 720p (1280x720) and chief executive Steve Jobs balking at adoption of Blu-ray on Macs due to licensing complications and other challenges that he said threatened to translate into a "bag of hurt."



But that could begin to change later this year, as a handful of feature films being submitted to the iTunes Store for a release in the September and October timeframe are being sent with documentation for an optional 1920x1080 resolution, according to people familiar with the matter.



For instance, one such film from 20th Century Fox was said to have arrived with encoding options for SD (480p), HD (720p), and a new, third format listed as HD+ (1080p). Similarly, a small number of upcoming releases from two of the other 'big 5' movie studios were submitted with optional resolutions of 1920x1080 and an average bitrate encoding of 10,000 kbps.



According to these same people, there have been rumors inside the company of a new version of Apple's $99 Apple TV device under development that would be capable of outputting 1080p streams via an upgrade to the company's new A5 chip, unlike the existing model which can accept 1080p content but downscales all output to 720p due to the lack of horsepower in the device's first-generation A4 processor.



Word of films making their way to iTunes with options for the new HD+ format come just weeks after early builds of Apple's upcoming iOS 5.0 software were discovered to include a new video player capable of displaying and syncing 1080p content on the iPad 2. The second-generation tablet is the first Apple product to sport the company's brawnier A5 chip, which could similarly pave the way for 1080p HD playback capabilities via future iPhones and next-generation Apple TVs, when it makes its way to those devices.







Asked whether the company currently sports the backend capabilities to begin serving 1080p video files to the mass market, people close to Apple's content distribution partners affirmed the iTunes operator already maintains such technology. The challenge, they say, remains on the consumer end, where users opting to stream such massive files in near real-time would require a stable downlink in the realm of 10 megabits per second.



Residential high-speed connections of that stature aren't exactly rare in the U.S. but they aren't commonplace either. For example, Akamai's latest "State of the Internet Report" found that the average connection speed in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2010 was just 5.1 megabits, or roughly half of what would be needed to stream 1080p content without having to wait an extended period of time for the content to buffer.







The same report found that 36% of the U.S. internet connections exceeded 5 megabits, which was up 12% from the prior year. As for the average connection across the entire states, growth came in at just over 9% from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2010.



Should Apple choose to move forward with limited 1080p releases on the iTunes Store this year, it could chose to do so as direct downloads to Macs or PCs only. Alternatively, it could offer them selectively to owners of an updated Apple TV that would only display HD+ options to consumers whose internet connection it validated as sufficient.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77
    povilaspovilas Posts: 473member
    That chart is pure BS. Lithuania is one of top 5 or even top 3 countries in Europe. Whole country is one huge optic network.
  • Reply 2 of 77
    boogabooga Posts: 1,075member
    Who cares about the 1080p spec... what will the compression ratio be? It doesn't matter if they have 60 frames a second at full resolution if all of those pixels are filled with macroblocks during any sort of motion.
  • Reply 3 of 77
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,901member
    1080p doesn't make a whole lot of sense for most areas of the US. Unless homes are wired with Verizon's FiOS (fiber optic lines), or other stable high-speed line downloads would take an eternity. It might make more sense as a delivery option for T1 wired hotels.
  • Reply 4 of 77
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    1080p doesn't make a whole lot of sense for most areas of the US. Unless homes are wired with Verizon's FiOS (fiber optic lines), or other stable high-speed line downloads would take an eternity. It might make more sense as a delivery option for T1 or T3 wired hotels.



    and it is not FIOS - 50Mbps down and 5Mbps up - with cable - and Netflix works really well on a variety of devices in the house. true not all of the Netflix catalog is HD source material.
  • Reply 5 of 77
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Povilas View Post


    That chart is pure BS. Lithuania is one of top 5 or even top 3 countries in Europe. Whole country is one huge optic network.



    Eurostat disagrees with you. There is a difference between fibre optic networks being present and households being connected to them.
  • Reply 6 of 77
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,901member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post


    and it is not FIOS - 50Mbps down and 5Mbps up - with cable - and Netflix works really well on a variety of devices in the house. true not all of the Netflix catalog is HD source material.



    I have no special knowledge of Netflix' catalog, but if I were to guess, I'd say their top quality looks to be 720p.
  • Reply 7 of 77
    bigdaddypbigdaddyp Posts: 811member
    I would be willing to buy a 1080p movie and download it, stream? Nope.
  • Reply 8 of 77
    asciiascii Posts: 5,848member
    I have a 27in iMac so would welcome this. They mention a bitrate of 10Mbit, but Blu Ray starts at 36Mbit, and in some ways that is more important than resolution. And Blu Ray uses H.264 which is the same codec Apple uses, so the bitrates should be directly comparable.



    But it's still an improvement, and 3.5 times the bitrate truly would be impractical to download. But it shows that studios are not opposed to upping the quality of downloads over time, so I think the writing is on the wall for Blu Ray.
  • Reply 9 of 77
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    I have no special knowledge of Netflix' catalog, but if I were to guess, I'd say their top quality looks to be 720p.



    My point was that regardless of what is done with 1080 content - much of the Netflix catalog is by design older and or more obscure titles - where the original source material predates even 480p.



    So talking about the first 3 or 4 titles being offered in 1080p doesn't really interest me much if I have to pay $4 each to watch them. Not that I have anything against higher quality and have the internet speed and 65" TV to watch it - but for $8 a month I will watch a few dozen Netflix movies and or TV shows and that works for me.
  • Reply 10 of 77
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,244member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Booga View Post


    Who cares about the 1080p spec... what will the compression ratio be? It doesn't matter if they have 60 frames a second at full resolution if all of those pixels are filled with macroblocks during any sort of motion.



    I care.



    Where in the article did Apple say it was implementing it? There are merely testing it, and trying to get ideas. Are you implying that since most homes are not ready for it, that they shouldn't even bother?



    How many mouths have been shooting off about Apple not providing HD-level movies - all the same time knowing Netflix doesn't even off it? The next thing that'll happen is that should home-bandwidth get to that point, those same mouths will shoot off about Apple (yet again) not being ready for prime time.



    Can't seem to win no matter what.
  • Reply 11 of 77
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    I have a 27in iMac so would welcome this. They mention a bitrate of 10Mbit, but Blu Ray starts at 36Mbit, and in some ways that is more important than resolution. And Blu Ray uses H.264 which is the same codec Apple uses, so the bitrates should be directly comparable.



    But it's still an improvement, and 3.5 times the bitrate truly would be impractical to download. But it shows that studios are not opposed to upping the quality of downloads over time, so I think the writing is on the wall for Blu Ray.



    a download could use a higher level of compression or restarted after an interruption, requiring some post processing after download is complete, versus streaming which is less forgiving
  • Reply 12 of 77
    povilaspovilas Posts: 473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post


    Eurostat disagrees with you. There is a difference between fibre optic networks being present and households being connected to them.



    That's what i'm saying. We have one of the best internet penetration level in the world and speed wise too.



    Not the first time Eurostat takes numbers out of it's ass.
  • Reply 13 of 77
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Povilas View Post


    That's what i'm saying. We have one of the best internet penetration level in the world and speed wise too.



    Not the first time Eurostat takes numbers out of it's ass.



    Link to an alternative source? Eurostat will be getting their numbers from the Lithuanian stat agency.
  • Reply 14 of 77
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bigdaddyp View Post


    I would be willing to buy a 1080p movie and download it, stream? Nope.



    I would be just the opposite. I'll definitely rent 1080p. Buy? Blu-Ray and rip it myself.
  • Reply 15 of 77
    cvaldes1831cvaldes1831 Posts: 1,832member
    It's about time. The porn guys have been streaming 1080p for years. Even YouTube/Vimeo/others are streaming 1080p.
  • Reply 16 of 77
    macslutmacslut Posts: 514member
    Baby steps people.



    We've got a long way to go before streaming can match Blu-ray (and even that can be improved upon). So for now, what would be nice is some carrot in front of the horse treatment of having movies available in a quality that entices people to upgrade to faster bandwidth and gives carriers incentive to continue to improve bandwidth.
  • Reply 17 of 77
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post


    It's about time. The porn guys have been streaming 1080p for years. Even YouTube/Vimeo/others are streaming 1080p.



    You'd rather have 1080p than 720p even if that 1080p had a lower bitrate than Apple's 720p content? I surely wouldn't.
  • Reply 18 of 77
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macslut View Post


    Baby steps people.



    We've got a long way to go before streaming can match Blu-ray (and even that can be improved upon). So for now, what would be nice is some carrot in front of the horse treatment of having movies available in a quality that entices people to upgrade to faster bandwidth and gives carriers incentive to continue to improve bandwidth.



    If it plays on a machine reliably without freaking out about the fact that I connect my monitor by HDMI then it will be a stop above blu-ray.
  • Reply 19 of 77
    anifananifan Posts: 25member
    I need some 1080p Doctor Who.
  • Reply 20 of 77
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Biggest problem I can see with downloading 1080p is disk-space. I've already got around 2 TB of video, if that was 1080p I'd need more like 6TB - and more still for blu-ray bit-rates. At that point I'd have to start refiguring the cost of storage into the cost of the content. Worse I'd need to figure in the hassle of the storage.



    On the other hand I really hate the blu-ray experience. I hate the unskippable crap, warnings, adverts etc. I hate the DRM that freaks when I upgrade a graphics card. I hate stacks of physical media cluttering up the place.



    I think I'll stick with 720p for a while longer.
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