Apple to introduce 1080p movies to iTunes?

9 July, 2011 - Paul Dixon
iTunes Movies

Currently, Apple offers a select number of iTunes movies to rent or buy in HD 720p format. But so far, anyone wanting to watch 1080p movies on their Mac has been left out in the cold. Steve Jobs himself has suggested we are unlikely to see Blu-ray equipped Macs. But some recent movie submissions may just pave the way for 1080p movies on iTunes.

AppleInsider reported yesterday, that a small number of feature films submitted to the iTunes Store for release around September/October, had additional encoding options to the usual 480p (standard definition) and 720p formats:

“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 1920×1080 and an average bitrate encoding of 10,000 kbps.”

If Apple do indeed start to introduce 1080p movies, one challenge they face is that many users won’t have fast enough internet connections to rent movies without experiencing significant delays while the content buffers. With that concern in mind, AppleInsider speculates that Apple could instead, only offer the higher definition movies as direct downloads. While I’m sure many Mac owners would welcome that option, it’s worth bearing in mind how long it may take for the files to download, and of course the hard drive space needed to store them.

It’s already been reported that iOS 5 will allow the iPad 2 to display and sync 1080p content – which gives more support to these latest rumors, and providing the next-generation iPhone gets a faster A5 chip it seems likely that it too will have 1080p capabilities. One device that would need an upgrade to output 1080p content is the Apple TV 2 – its current A4 chip has to downscale all output to 720p, plus a lack of onboard storage means movies can only be rented, not bought via the device.

Would you like to see 1080p movies in iTunes? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

About the author

Paul Dixon is the owner of Macsessed. He lives in Lancashire in the UK where he works as a web designer. You can find him on and Twitter.