Apple Computer Inc. on Thursday backed Sony Corp.'s Blu-ray format for the next generation of digital videodiscs, bolstering Sony's effort to dominate the $26.1-billion U.S. market for DVDs and players.
Apple, whose computers including the iMac run software to create DVDs, joined the board of the Blu-ray Disc Assn., Blu-ray said. Sony is fighting to win support over Toshiba Corp. and NEC Corp.'s HD-DVD standard.
The competing formats promise high-definition pictures, better sound quality, more capacity and improved copyright protection than standard DVDs. Gaining the support of film studios and computer makers such as Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple will help determine the dominant standard.
"Capacity is everything" for personal computer makers, said Ted Schadler, an analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. "In capacity, Blu-ray is much better."
Blu-ray's backers include Round Rock, Texas-based Dell Inc., Palo Alto-based Hewlett-Packard Co., Tokyo-based Sony, the world's largest maker of consumer products and Burbank-based Walt Disney Co. Also supporting Blu-ray is Thomson, the world's largest supplier of recorded DVDs.
Apple shares rose 48 cents Thursday to $39.83 on Nasdaq.
The name Blu-ray refers to the blue laser used to read from and record to the new format DVD. Today's DVDs and CDs work with a red laser.
The blue laser enables more data to be written on a disc. HD-DVD discs have about four times the capacity of standard DVDs, while Blu-ray discs have as much as five times more capacity.
Apple became one of the first PC makers to offer a way to record DVDs on computers. Apple will support the format in its iMovie and Final Cut video-editing software, Blu-ray said.