While the new Mac mini may have brought the HDMI output many were clamouring for, its position as the HTPC of choice was slightly undermined by the continued absence of a Blu-ray drive. According to the latest email exchange with Steve Jobs, we shouldn’t hold our breath for any Blu-ray on an Apple machine; a MacRumors reader asked the CEO about the optical drive’s absence, only to be told by Jobs that “Bluray is looking more and more like one of the high end audio formats that appeared as the successor to the CD – like it will be beaten by Internet downloadable formats.”
When pushed about Blu-ray’s potential as a way of distributing high-quality video, Jobs went on to argue that for most users 720p HD is sufficient when balanced with the convenience of instant streaming over broadband:
“No, free, instant gratification and convenience (likely in that order) is what made the downloadable formats take off. And the downloadable movie business is rapidly moving to free (Hulu) or rentals (iTunes) so storing purchased movies or TV shows is not an issue.
I think you may be wrong – we may see a fast broad move to streamed free and rental content at sufficient quality (at least 720p) to win almost everyone over.” Steve Jobs
Jobs previously described Blu-ray licensing as “a bag of hurt” and said that consumers – and Apple – were more interested in simply watching a movie rather than messing about with format support. Given Apple’s investment in the iTunes digital content ecosystem, and Jobs persistent refusal to brook Blu-ray’s inclusion in the company’s hardware, it looks like a standalone Blu-ray player will still be requires in any Apple-lover’s lounge.