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Tuesday, October 14, 2003
DVD+R to be supported by Apple

Apple is adding support for DVD+R and DVD+RW into the Macintosh operating system with Panther, the new version of Mac OS X that ships next week. Apple is only adding support for backing up data and has not yet added support for the format into its media applications, such as iDVD and iTunes.

The move is a strategic shift for Apple, which until now has supported only the -R standard, contending it was used by more DVD players. The company has shipped some machines with Sony-made drives that can write to both the +R and -R standards, but in those cases it turned off the +R capabilities.

An Apple representative said that the move came at the request of customers, many of whom own third-party DVD burners. Apple did not say whether it would add DVD+R support into future versions of its iApps, such as iDVD.

Apple drive supplier Pioneer, which has been one of the big makers of DVD-R drives, announced in May that it would support both formats. Microsoft has also added support for both types of discs.

The DVD+RW format had the early backing of several PC makers, including Dell and Hewlett-Packard, while consumer electronics makers such as Panasonic and Hitachi pushed the rival DVD-RW format.

However, the -R camp lost a key backer when Compaq Computer was acquired by HP, which has steadfastly supported the +RW format. Sony also moved from the DVD-R camp to supplying drives that can read and write to both types of discs.

Also, the DVD+RW format, which was initially seen as less compatible than its rival, is now supported by most DVD players, analysts say.

Backers of the -R format said that Apple's move does not necessarily spell defeat for their format.

"I don't think it's a negative thing; I don't think it's a positive thing," said Andy Marken, a representative for the Recordable DVD Council, a hardware and software trade group that supports the DVD-R format. "It is just (Apple) doing the right thing for Mac users."

Marken said that archiving data is an important use of DVD burning and that supporting more than one format allows consumers to choose whichever flavor of media is cheaper on store shelves.

"It gives the consumer the ultimate choice," Marken said.

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