Rumour has it that Apple may soon roll out H.264 hardware support to its entire line of computers. Robert X. Cringely says this will be an expensive move but he believes Apple's plan might be to take command of the 1080p video market via iTunes:
Cringely continues, "Here's what I THINK Apple is about to do. I reported more than a year ago and repeated in this year's predictions that Apple would be adding H.264 hardware support to its entire line of computers. The chip they are adding comes from NTT in Japan and was developed in cooperation with Japanese broadcaster NHK. The chips began sampling a year ago and should now be available in volume, though Apple may be paying as much as $50 each for early production."
"The NTT chip is not just an H.264 decoder, it encodes, too, which is what makes it so special. The last I heard NHK was claiming the chip could compress a 1080p video and audio stream into four megabits per second, down from the 20 megabits normally required. If we assume Apple will apply the same kind of wink-wink, nudge-nudge transcoding to 1080p that they've already applied to 720p in the Apple TV, then it is within reason to expect they'll claim to distribute 1080p over iTunes in two megabits per second," Cringely writes.
Cringely believes this might be the future product transition that might impact margins that Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer referred to during the firm's latest quarterly conference call.
While Cringely believes Apple's secret product transition is all about 1080p HD video others believe it might be the case that Apple will adopt NVIDIA chipsets for its Mac computer lineup.