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The next version of iTunes, which has been released to developers, indicates that Apple may add support for the Blu-ray high-definition format.
ITunes version 8.2 was included with the latest update of the iPhone 3.0 beta software shipped to developers late Tuesday. Within the "About iTunes" section of the pre-release version of the software was a reference suggesting the Apple media player would support Blu-ray disc playback, according to reports.
How far Apple will take Blu-ray support is not known. As a matter of company policy, Apple does not comment on future products.
However, supporting the HD format in any of its products would be a first for Apple, which does not offer Blu-ray disc players as an option for its Mac computers. Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has implied in comments that Blu-ray licensing fees are too high.
Growing adoption of Blu-ray by consumers may force Apple to change its stance. From January through March, Americans bought 9 million Blu-ray movies, nearly double the number sold in the same period a year ago, according to Adams Media Research. Helping to drive sales are lower prices for Blu-ray disc players, which are currently available for less than $150.
Apple last month started offering high-definition movies for rent or purchase on the iTunes stores. HD titles are more expensive to buy and cost a dollar more to rent. Movies and TV shows downloaded from iTunes can be played on an Apple Mac, iPhone, and some iPod models, as well as a Windows PC. The films also can be played on a digital TV through the Apple TV set-top box.
Apple isn't alone in trying to entice people with HD content. Netflix and Blockbuster also offer HD movies online.
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