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Apple May Be Prepping For Blu-Ray

The beta pre-release version of ITunes that shipped to developers late Tuesday may hold the key to Apple's future plans.

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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