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Sony Media Portables (Games)

Sony Says UMD Is Here To Stay 160

Posted by Zonk
from the well-that's-a-relief dept.
PlayStation Portable senior marketing manager John Koller spoke with the Pocket Gamer site about the much-maligned UMD format. The disc used in the PSP for both games and movies, few stores carry UMD movies any more. Just the same, says Koller, Sony supports it 100%. From the interview: "'UMD possesses many strengths, from size to form factor to portability,' he says. The same can easily be said of the UMD's cartridge counterpart on Nintendo DS. However, ease of UMD manufacturing is seen as a winning benefit. 'Duplication of UMDs is much easier, cheaper than cartridges,' Koller adds. 'We've really optimized time and cost by going with a disc-based format.' On the topic of UMD weaknesses, Koller is candid: 'There's no question the biggest weakness is related to porting games from other platforms. Publishers are concerned about the size of UMD because they can't cram a DVD game on to it.'"
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Sony Says UMD Is Here To Stay

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  • by MSRedfox (1043112) on Monday July 09, 2007 @03:47AM (#19797193)
    "Sales in Japan, however, have been astronomical - in autumn of last year, UMD movies underwent a 1000 per cent jump in the region as a result of deep discounts by retailers." Well, yeah. That's an easy way to get sales. My local Circuit City blew their discs out fast when they were discontinued and marked down to $2 each. Last I knew, most movie distributors other then Sony had stopped releasing UMD movie titles due to poor sales. Sony just needs to let the format die, everyone else has.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MSRedfox (1043112)
      I just did a quick search for UMD on CircuitCity.com and found 0 movie discs. On Bestbuy.com, I found 79 movie discs, all sold out and with the last one having a release date of 11/25/2005. The movie format is dead, it has been for a year and 1/2. Where does Sony come up with this stuff?
    • by richdun (672214)
      You missed the "in Japan" part, which makes sales data from your local Circuit City (or any Circuit City, Best Buy, etc. sitting anywhere in North America) irrelevant. Just look at MiniDisc - they love it over there, and yet it barely even got started over here in the States. It's possible UMD is big over there (my only connection to first-hand information on Japanese culture, and, not coincidentally, the only person I know who owns an MD player, has been in the States for a number of years and doesn't hear
      • by SharpFang (651121) on Monday July 09, 2007 @04:12AM (#19797327) Homepage Journal
        Except the marketspeak used in the cited sentence matches the situation perfectly. Deep discounts resulting in increase of sales, without citing the original sales which got increased, without writing about how (un)profitable the sale is after the deep discounts, without predictions about sustaining the sales level (is it just emptying the shelves of unwanted junk, or a promotion) etc.

        Reminds me of a joke from soviet era. A The most famous runner from Poland was to compete against a soviet champion. It was a one on one race. The official message stated the results: "the Russian got the honourable second place, the Pole came in but-last."

    • OMG 1000 per cent jump!?

      That means that they sold 11 UMD movies?
      • You deserve a +1 insightful just for not saying "That means that they sold 10 UMD movies". The inability of smart, at-least-theoretically-mathematically-literate people to comprehend the reasoning for why it is 11 movies, not 10, fills me with despair. Actual quote from a discussion I had a few years ago with an engineering boss:

        "Boss, we increased the throughput by 200% relative to [the baseline]"
        "Good. See if you can jigger something and get it up to triple."

        I of course took the next hour off and then
  • Sony making more optimistic claims trying to force another unwanted format?
    I just don't understand why they even need to, are there any advantages that other formats don't (and wont) have?
    • by MSRedfox (1043112) on Monday July 09, 2007 @03:57AM (#19797257)
      "I just don't understand why they even need to, are there any advantages that other formats don't (and wont) have?" Yes, it has one big advantage for Sony. They can collect fees on UMD discs. If another format is used, they don't get paid for it. It is all about them trying to push their proprietary format so they get extra income. It is the same reason they want Blu-ray to take off. Nothing is better then getting paid for simply controlling the underlying media format.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The comments could be viewed in a number of ways.

      I think the UMD, being a format exclusively used by the PSP, is a fine format. Not necessarily better than the DS' game cards, but with more storage, i can't complain.
      • by Bert64 (520050)
        But a pointless one...
        You can now get 2GB MicroSD cards, which are absoloutely tiny... I'm sure the slightly larger SD cards come in sizes over 4gb, enough for a full DVD, and even full size SD cards are physically smaller than UMD or nintendo's cartridge format...
        So why not just use standard media cards, like the ones mentioned above or one of the other types?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by mlk (18543)
          Easy to copy both to and from, great for homebrew & pirates, crap for content producers.

          Can't charge through noise for the writers.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Pressing a UMD is probably far far cheaper than even write once SD cards. UMDs can probably be pressed, like most optical media, for pennies.
          • by jimicus (737525)
            That economy of scale only works if people actually want to buy the product.
            • by steveo777 (183629)
              This can be taken seriously or quite jocular, but I think that Sony is making quite enough UMD's currently to make your point somewhat... moot. The games are selling (albeit not that well) and pressing a game or movie is the same process.
        • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday July 09, 2007 @07:39AM (#19798389)
          You can now get 2GB MicroSD cards, which are absoloutely tiny

          And how much did that 2GB MicroSD card cost when the PSP came out? Oh wait, they didn't make them at the time. You could get a 1GB MicroSD card for about a hundred bucks, though. Why didn't they just use those instead? Comparing what's available now to the materials available when the PSP was being developed/introduced indicates that you don't quite understand how this "flow of time" thing works.
          • by Alchemar (720449)
            And a 2GB SD card works just fine in the PDA I bought when 1 GB disk were the largest available and cost >$100. Sony doesn't want an expandable format. They want control of everyones information, and to collect money when anyone uses it. To my knowledge, UMD disk are a fixed size. Cartridges and cards continue to have more memory/size, but Sony doesn't get a format licensing fee so that won't work. While were discussing "flow of time" lets take a look at Sony's history and see if it is a "flow of ti
    • by LordVader717 (888547) on Monday July 09, 2007 @05:15AM (#19797699)
      The biggest fault is deciding to put a shrunk DVD drive into a handheld. Manufacturing may be easier for them, but the DS cartridges are selling a bajillion times more and there doesn't seem to be a problem keeping up there.

      The problem with the PSP is that it tried too much to be as powerful as a home console. Most of it's games are therefore not seen as better than DS games, but as stripped down versions of home console games.
      • by toleraen (831634)

        The biggest fault is deciding to put a shrunk DVD drive into a handheld. Manufacturing may be easier for them, but the DS cartridges are selling a bajillion times more and there doesn't seem to be a problem keeping up there.

        Somehow I don't think the difference in sales of games between a DS and a PSP has anything to do with how easily the media is manufactured. Making a drive that relies on an established manufacturing process with minor modifications is a smart business move, both for Sony and for third party manufacturers. If anything the fault of the UMD is the extremely slow read speed of the drive.

        The problem with the PSP is that it tried too much to be as powerful as a home console. Most of it's games are therefore not seen as better than DS games, but as stripped down versions of home console games.

        What's wrong with being as powerful as a home console? Well done games look beautiful on the PSP and play very well. The pro

        • by AuMatar (183847)
          Two problems

          1)Cost. Very few people use a portable as a main console. Thus they're willing to pay less for it. The PSP was way too expensive.
          2)Optical drives and batteries. They don't go well together. The short battery life was more of a killer than the cost.
          • by toleraen (831634)
            Preface: I own a PSP, but it's been generally collecting dust for the last ~9 months.

            1. I agree it was expensive if you look at it as just a gaming platform. However, it is also a fairly capable media player as well. So for a device that plays games, movies, mp3s, can surf the web, stream music, etc, it was pretty decent. That's not even getting into what the homebrew could do for you.

            2. I never really bought into this argument. The regular battery never died in less than 5 hours for me, and the batt
        • Somehow I don't think the difference in sales of games between a DS and a PSP has anything to do with how easily the media is manufactured.

          Exactly! It's something that isn't of concern to the consumer, and it definitely shouldn't be pushing back higher priorities in the system design.
          People don't give a shit how much it costs Sony to make a UMD, but the short battery life and the fragility of the System held the PSP back big time.

          What's wrong with being as powerful as a home console? Well done games look be

      • Is it a "problem"? The PSP may not outsell the DS, but they've sold 23 million of them, so it's hardly any sort of marketplace failure.
        • In the games system contest, yes it is.

          If you're a gamer, your main concern is about getting good games. You see, to secure third party interest, you need to have a pretty good position in the marketplace. And when I say "pretty good" I mean either market leader, or pretty much neck-and-neck.
          Alternatively, you might be able to secure cross-platform games, but that doesn't work out to well for the PSP, as there is no equivalent system like the PS2 had the GameCube and XBOX.

          The result is the situation we see
          • I have a PSP...there's tons of new games [gamespot.com] for it every month. There was a big lack at launch, but that was resolved over a year ago. Currently, the new and exciting game on the PSP is "Crush". A couple months ago it was "Puzzle Quest". I wouldn't mind having a DS myself, but honestly I have more PSP games than I have time to play, so I don't bother.

            For a game producer to make money, they need to mostly worry about the raw number of devices there are that can run their games. The PSP may be outsold by t
  • by SharpFang (651121) on Monday July 09, 2007 @03:55AM (#19797249) Homepage Journal
    Minidisk, Memory Stick, and now this. Sony seems to have its mind set on producing a medium that is more expensive than any of the competition, doesn't add anything significant feature-wise and is totally incompatibile with the rest of the world.
    In one hand, this is kind of lock-in, buy ours, not the competitor's. In the other hand, the Memory Stick was a deciding factor in not picking a Sony when I was buying a camera...
    • by Osty (16825)

      Minidisk, Memory Stick, and now this. Sony seems to have its mind set on producing a medium that is more expensive than any of the competition, doesn't add anything significant feature-wise and is totally incompatibile with the rest of the world.

      Don't forget BetaMax and Blu-Ray. Sony has a long history of NIH syndrome. They also have a long history of losing to more open formats. In their defense, Blu-Ray is quite a bit more open than any of their previous attempts, but I still expect it to lose because

      • by mulvane (692631)
        Lets also not forget that Betamax WAS the superior product. They lost out on that battle to VHS because sony wouldn't license betamax to adult content providers whereas vhs did....
        • Lets also not forget that Betamax WAS the superior product. They lost out on that battle to VHS because sony wouldn't license betamax to adult content providers whereas vhs did....

          Actually, at least in the beginning, Betamax DID lose out on one quality measure. And it was an very obvious one, and one that mattered to people who weren't videophiles. Betamax tapes weren't as long.

          In HQ recording mode (which in the beginning was the ONLY recording mode, and remained the best mode if you cared at all about re

        • When I was growing up my parents had a BetaMax player. We had stacks and stacks of Beta tapes that we got for like 10 dollars a box when when the local SoundWarehouse cleared out it's Beta section. Our house got broken into several times, and almost every time, they stole the Beta player. Sometimes it was almost the only thing they had time to steal before the police arrived (or one time we came home while they were in the house.) I can only imagine the frustration as they tried to use or pawn it. Thou
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ady1 (873490)
      Floppy disks?
      • by SharpFang (651121)
        Got to use one of these cameras extensively.
        Sure the floppies were cheap, and the fact I carried a bag with 100 or so of them with me for each trip, as one would fit 3-4 pics of reasonable resolution, but they were a killer to the batteries, and the proprietary batteries sucked ass. About 20 floppies, meaning some 60-80 pics and the original battery included with the camera was dead. One of extended lifetime, and much more expensive would survive the other 80 or so.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by toleraen (831634)
        Don't forget CDs and DATs. Terrible, insignificant formats indeed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by donaldm (919619)
      Actually the Minidisk was a very practical format when it first came out since it had a lower form factor and was much more robust than CD or tape cassette, unfortunately since it was competing against the cheaper CD's and cassettes it was not as popular. Actually Sony licensed the technology to numerous companies, but once MP3 players appeared this made the Minidisk even less attractive, of course the MP3 player also killed off the cassette player as well. For more information on the Minidisk see http://e [wikipedia.org]
      • Actually Sony licensed the technology to numerous companies, but once MP3 players appeared this made the Minidisk even less attractive, of course the MP3 player also killed off the cassette player as well.

        Besides price, the copy protection was a turn-off for many. Having 2 non-interchangable format players and disks didn't help either (Data or Music). The CDR came along without Serial Copy Protection and the same disc could do Music or Data in any player/recorder except a stand alone music recorder which
      • by ajlitt (19055) on Monday July 09, 2007 @08:04AM (#19798597)
        Sony could have owned the removeable media market in the '90s. Around the time that Iomega was raking in big bucks from their expensive Zip disks, Sony had made and was selling (but not pushing) a PC drive that could write to cheap 120MB Minidiscs. Unfortunately the drives were expensive at the time. That shouldn't have lasted long since the mechanisms and support electronics for reading and writing Minidisc aren't that much more complex than a CD-ROM transport.
        • by daniel422 (905483)
          Agreed. And to top it off Sony went and started pushing minidisks with their ATRAC format ONLY on their players -- again completely incompatible with the rest of the world - at a time when MP3 was really starting to take off. You had to rip all your music to ATRAC, there was no online component, and you couldn't "share" files with your friends since they (typically) couldn't play ATRAC.
          UMD sucks. It's a PSP-only format and that limits the market already. The PSP never took off like Sony hoped it would (
    • Re:Format choices. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Technician (215283) on Monday July 09, 2007 @06:29AM (#19798041)
      In the other hand, the Memory Stick was a deciding factor in not picking a Sony when I was buying a camera...

      Add to the list the format of the battery. My first digital camera was a SONY. Two lessons learned.. Interchangable parts are a must. Otherwise you are required to overstock seldom used items.

      One memory card and one battery is OK for the occasional shot of the kid but useless when taking in an auto show, wedding and reception, parade, etc. Either I had a full memory with lots of useless CF cards nearby, or a dead battery with lots of NiMH and alkaline batteries nearby also useless.

      I have standardised as much as possible. Everything uses either CF or SD cards and AA or AAA batteries. I have enough of both to get the job done. For a big job, the cards get pulled out of the MP3 player, the GPS and the hand held computer. A 2 week vacation to Hawaii did not mean running out of supplies. When I ran out of batteries at the cultral center, I broke open some alkaline batteries and kept shooting. I was not held hostage to a propritory battery format. It's nice that my flashlight and camera share batteries.
      • by Eivind (15695)
        Agreed. Allthough its getting to be less on an issue. Memory-cards are getting cheaper faster than the pixel-count of cameras are growing. (and for many people there's no reason really to go higher than say a 5-8Mpix camera)

        For many people, this means memory-capacity is essentially infinite. A 1GB memory-chip that costs perhaps $20 will hold aproximately 1000 pictures taken with my wifes point-and-shoot. That *is* enough for most people, even for an extended vacation. And if it wasn't, a 4GB card ain't expe
      • Non-rechargeable alkalines are wasteful and damaging to the environment. You were of course speaking of rechargeable Ni or Li batteries right? You dispose of your used batteries properly right? Your point that proprietary batteries are inconvenient is valid, but there's something to be said for not creating more waste than necessary.
        • Non-rechargeable alkalines are wasteful and damaging to the environment. You were of course speaking of rechargeable Ni or Li batteries right?

          Um no. Spending $50 for 4 extra sets of batteries that will rot in a drawer is a waste of resources. The extra batteries is for when you run completely through your regular stock of rechargable batteries on a high demand job.

          Having an overly large stock of rechargable batteries is a total waste. You toss them into a charger and when needed you find the set of 4 doe
          • I used to feel the same way; until I bought some last year.

            New rechargables are awesome. The ones I own (energizer 2500mAh) have _dramatically_ outlived and outpriced buying new alkalines all the time. They're only about 3x the price; but they (a) perform better than alkalines (b) live long enough to pay for themselves many times over and (c) are smarter for the environment.

            Seriously, give them another chance.
            • by xenocide2 (231786)
              They're also bunk on the voltage: they register 1.2V, as is often the case with rechargables. I picked some up for Wiimote controls, and their usable lifetime is crap. Either the voltage drops below threshold quickly, or the voltage regulator is causing large inefficiencies. For batteries marketed as useful for electronics, I find the shortcoming less than applaudable.
              • by Abcd1234 (188840)
                Sorry, but this is BS. Alkaline batteries have a known discharge curve which brings their voltage below 1.2V about half-way through their lifetime, declining until they're burnt out. OTOH, rechargeables, such as NiMH, have a much flatter discharge curve. Of course, this has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, you get more consistent performance during a given charge cycle. On the other, it's more difficult for devices to determine the charge state of the battery, since it can't use voltage d
  • by deniable (76198) on Monday July 09, 2007 @03:59AM (#19797267)
    Every time I saw UMD movies, they were more expensive than the DVD version. This probably hurt sales of the PSP as well.

    It's typical Sony. Make your own format and charge extra for it. They never learn.
    • by SCPRedMage (838040) on Monday July 09, 2007 @04:10AM (#19797323)
      Hmm... do I buy the UMD version of the movie and watch it on just my PSP, or do I buy it on DVD, rip and convert it to play from a Memory Stick, using less battery power, and costing less to boot...

      Tough decisions...
      • by tepples (727027)

        do I buy it on DVD, rip and convert it to play from a Memory Stick, using less battery power, and costing less to boot
        What country lets its citizens do this? The United States sure doesn't (17 USC 1201).
        • Re:What country? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by LKM (227954) on Monday July 09, 2007 @07:34AM (#19798369) Homepage

          What country lets its citizens do this?

          Every country. Except yours.

          • by Trogre (513942)
            And New Zealand.

            We don't have a fair use clause of any kind. If you reproduce any copyrighted work at all without written permission, even if you own it, you're breaking the law.

        • by jZnat (793348) *
          Despite what the law says (and contradicts itself), I seriously doubt anyone in the government who would enforce this law would really give a shit if you broke the horribly insecure CSS "protection" on DVDs in order to watch your purchased movies on your PSP. Maybe they'd give a shit if the MPAA paid them to, but the MPAA seems to be more interested in bribing Congress for infinite and more draconian copyright laws.
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Monday July 09, 2007 @04:00AM (#19797271)
    They forgot to mention that's quite insufficient. Stores don't support it. Content producers (except Sony) don't support it.

    And not to mention, consumers don't support it. Who'd pay almost the full price of a movie just to watch a downscaled version on his psp.
    • Probably the same guy who thinks "all I want for christmas is a psp [pocketgamer.co.uk]".
    • And not to mention, consumers don't support it.

      So I take it you're claiming that consumers aren't buying games to play on their PSPs either.
    • "And not to mention, consumers don't support it. Who'd pay almost the full price of a movie just to watch a downscaled version on his psp."

      I would have if they had thought it through a little more. With 1.5 gigs they could have used a codec like DivX to put not only a PSP optimized version of the movie on the disc, but also a SD res version that would play on a TV. If they had done that, I would have seriously considered (assuming it wasn't prohibitively expensive) a Sony DVD player that also had a UMD sl
  • comparing it to DS cartridges is a bit odd for gaming too... you can't write to a UMD can you? (i don't own a psp so i don't know, i just thought it was the case)
  • From (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MemoryDragon (544441) on Monday July 09, 2007 @04:18AM (#19797361)
    a price standpoint umd is outright weird, movies three times the price of a normal dvd which are not copyable (face it even illegal dvd backups are the norm not the exception) from a technical standpoint a mixed bag, they finally added caddies to improve the lifespan, but they left out a hole the size of a finger, so the caddies are outright pointless. The medium itself is a nice extension to dvds, but since they are not writable they serve only one purpose, customer lock in! Besides that 2 gig sd cards are now somewhat 10 dollars or so, so even if sony would bring out writable umd drives, they would be bound to fail, the next medium which will go the way of the dodo will be dvds (and their rw incarnations), 4 gig memory cards soon will be in the pricerange of a no brainer!
  • "Strength" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vga_init (589198) on Monday July 09, 2007 @04:21AM (#19797383) Journal

    UMD possesses many strengths, from size to form factor to portability,

    That's not many strengths; that's one. It's SMALL. Also, this attribute is not necessarily a strength. It could have many downsides too.

    • by Bert64 (520050)
      Only UMD disks are not small, compared to all the myriad of media card formats... I can get a 2GB MiniSD card for $10, which is a fraction of the size of a UMD disk.
      What exactly are they trying to compare to?
      • You can't write to UMD format (which I think is one of Sony's big mistakes with the format), so saying that a MiniSD card is cheaper and smaller than UMD is irrelevant.

        CDs, mini CDs and DVDs are the only direct comparison and UMD is smaller than all of those.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)
      But "big" probably has more downsides, so "small" is a good feature. Too bad it's the ONLY good feature, and not one that is largely unimportant for the intended purpose (watching movies) and, as the poster before you noticed, not particularly unique (mini-DVD, cheap flash-memory)
  • by earthbound kid (859282) on Monday July 09, 2007 @04:23AM (#19797395) Homepage
    Allow me to quote a post on the last /. Sony story [slashdot.org]:

    • "$499 PS3 rumored"

    • "$499 PS3 denied by Sony CEO"

    • "Sony rejects $499 PS3"

    • "Sony Spokesman says $499 a hoax"

    • "$499 PS3 confirmed"


    Allow me to add one more bullet:

    • "Sony Says UMD Is Here To Stay"


    Anyone have a guess about tomorrow's headline?...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by hmccabe (465882)
      I tried to mod you funny, but accidentally clicked on overrated. Unfortunately, the new mod system doesn't wait for me to hit the moderate button, so sorry about that. But by submitting this, I undo the mod. Neat!
    • by Kris_J (10111) *
      You put a lot more effort into a post that covered what I was going to say. I was simply going to point out that these sort of statements are usually just a last ditch effort to avoid doing exactly the opposite of what the statement claims, and rarely work. But your examples have much more punch, well done.
      • by mgblst (80109)
        Exactly. There is absolutely no point in being negative about their format, until the very last one is sold. Until the very last moment, it will be lauded despite all the logic against it. When they do finally kill it off, it will still be lauded, so there is never any point in listening to a company in this situation, especially Sony.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I wouldn't say I put much effort into this. Copy, paste, add a couple bullet points, et viola.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Minwee (522556)

      That's a pretty obvious progression:

      • "UMD denied by Sony CEO"
      • "Sony rejects UMD"
      • "Sony Spokesman says UMD a hoax"
  • Strengths (Score:5, Funny)

    by laurens (151193) on Monday July 09, 2007 @04:35AM (#19797461)

    "'UMD possesses many strengths, from size to form factor to portability,' he says.

    Not only that. It's also rather small, its dimensions are less-than-huge, it fits inside a reasonably sized box, not much space is generally taken by these disks and you can put many of them in one standard shirt pocket. Not to mention it's engineered not to be very big and there are lots of objects that take much more space. Geez, know your product's strengths man.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 09, 2007 @04:42AM (#19797517)
    "Sony says UMD is here to stay; consumers not buying it."
  • by Aphrika (756248) on Monday July 09, 2007 @04:51AM (#19797569)

    'There's no question the biggest weakness is related to porting games from other platforms
    Um... no. The UMDs biggest weakness is that honking great window that lets sand/dust/jam/toast/your gran in to destroy the game you bought with your hard-earned cash.

    That said, a UMD disc is just a minidisc (sans cover) using DVD technology rather than CD technology. It won't be long until BluMD is here folks!
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday July 09, 2007 @05:11AM (#19797673)
    Same deal. Actually, it was even heaps better than UMD. Great concept, way ahead of its time. A rewriteable, portable medium that could store heaps of data long before the advent of the DVD or the price landslide of the solid storage. Yet a desaster. Why?

    The reasons are similar to UMD: Sony's attempt to corner the market, rely on vendor lock-in and a DRM system that made it unusable. It's a no-brainer that you cannot force the market to use your proprietary format that none but your own hardware can read. And that's what Sony is trying (again). There is only ONE SINGLE platform for UMD. The PSP. And, let's be honest here, PSP sales weren't that great to begin with. PSPs are also not really the primary platform for watching movies. Far from it. And I think it's safe to assume that you have to pay Sony if you want to release a movie in UMD format.

    Could anyone, or everyone, with at least a hint of a background in business think of a reason why UMD fails?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Actually, Sony didn't try to

      force the market to use your proprietary format that none but your own hardware can read

      with the minidisc. Many companies from Sharp to AIWA produced minidisc players, recorders and discs that were all cheaper than Sony's versions. In fact, I own one and still use it with a mic as a portable sound recorder and it does a damn good job. The minidisc failed because of the price and the poor selection of music available. I believe that the demise of the UMD is mainly down to the fact that if you want to watch movies on the go you can buy them on DVD, rip them and tr

    • by bri2000 (931484) on Monday July 09, 2007 @06:48AM (#19798133)
      Great concept, way ahead of its time

      I used MD (and HiMD) for my portable music needs about 9 years for the period between the death of cassette and me finally succumbing and buying an iPod last year out of sheer frustration with Sony's arrogance. While I liked the format and owned four portable players a micro system with built in MD player which I had at work and even a rack size stand alone recorder/player and I really don't agree that it was ahead of its time. The original players were conceived more as a direct replacement for cassette than anything else. They did not integrate with computers at all and you had to record directly from your CD player in real time meaning that making a compilation disc was as time consuming as making a mix tape used to be (and you couldn't adjust recording levels to equalise volume over the disc without introducing unpleasant digital distortion) and maximum play time was 74 minutes. Notwithstanding that I preferred them to portable CD players, which were the only alternative at the time.

      Sony did not introduce NetMD with its PC integration until 2002, sometime after HDD and solid state mp3 players had started to become popular and (I always felt) as a grudging and half-arsed response to them. Looking back now I can't believe I stuck with NetMD as long as I did, I guess it must be true what they say about vendor lock-in - I had spent a lot of time recording MDs and I didn't want to start again on a new format. NetMD offered little over regular MD (a couple of long play modes of which only LP2 was seriously usuable for music and the fact your music was now also stored on your PC) Amongst the numerous problems the NetMD software (orginally called OpenMGJukebox, later SonicStage) had were:

      1. The fact it would only let you export a track to a maximum of 3 MDs. This was a blaket prohibition and, perhaps, the earliest example of Sony's draconian approach to DRM. This limitation became a real problem for me when I had a bag with most of my MDs in it stolen.

      2. If you had to do a system restore it would break the DRM and you would not have to access your music library at all. There was supposed to be a tool which fixed this. I could never make it work for me. It was when this happened for the second time (and Sony support claimed that this wasn't a bug but a feature) that I decided to buy an iPod.

      3. The NetMD could only read ATRAC format files meaning that any MP3s etc had to be converted. This resulted in loss of quality and would not work at all with WMA files (I think this may have finally been fixed recently).

      HiMD was actually a big advance I thought - 1GB discs, the ability to record PCM - but it was too little too late. When it was released it sold for the same price as as an iPod and just couldn't compete, especially given the awful software. I probably didn't help that spare 1GB discs weren't available until months after the players were launched)

  • by Fross (83754) on Monday July 09, 2007 @05:38AM (#19797807) Homepage
    Why do people keep saying the UMD is small? It's not, its physical size is way bigger than it should be, for its storage capacity. You can get 2 gig SD cards [amazon.com] dirt cheap already, which are smaller, technically hold more, more energy-efficient, and probably load faster, too.

    It's a proprietary, unwieldy format (can't display UMD movies on a tv, can't get writers or blank ones), but it's also bulky compared to alternatives (hell, i'd rather carry USB sticks), and small storage compared to alternatives.
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      You apparently missed the other bit of the article: It's cheap to produce.

      Memory cards are getting cheaper to produce every year, but when UMDs were invented, they were still quite expensive. A -blank- 2gb SD card at the time would have been about $200, I believe.

      As it stands, a blank 2gb SD card is still about $15 (from your link), half the cost of the retail games. Most stores still charge about $40.

      And those are just standard cards. In order to prevent easy theft, there would need to be a DRM system
  • UMD - its like drugs.... just say no!

    It was fine for the game platform, im reality it was nothing too different from a cart - but i do wonder how long it is before someone comes out with a handheld gaming platform that aims to do at least some of these things:

    - Linux based
    - open cartridge interface
    - the ability to plug in your own/code games.

    cause if you can make that, then its only 1 step to linux console, and only one step to mythtv as well... I can understand why companies dont want to do it, its a brave
    • by wwahammy (765566)
      How long? Very... Console developers make money on license fees from each game sold. If you no longer needed to go through the console maker, they would lose their cash cow.
    • by animaal (183055)

      i do wonder how long it is before someone comes out with a handheld gaming platform that aims to do at least some of these things:

      - Linux based
      - open cartridge interface
      - the ability to plug in your own/code games.
      About 3 years ago:

      http://www.dynamism.com/gp2x/main.shtml?gclid=CJyD mKKimo0CFQSDEAod4CoV2w [dynamism.com]
    • by timftbf (48204)

      It was fine for the game platform

      I beg to differ. PSP is the only platform on which I have given up on a game for which I'm enjoying the gameplay, but the loading times just made the whole affair painful.

      The culprit here is Breath of Fire. Walk through a dungeon, a random encounter happens. Wait 10-20s loading for music to change. Wait another 10s for characters to load their 'ready weapons' animations. Wait another 10s for the battle to actually start. Defeat random enemy. Wait 10s for victory music. Wait 10s for victory anima

  • by blackwing0013 (680833) on Monday July 09, 2007 @06:03AM (#19797933)
    Well, since there is news that the latest PSP firmware already has a built-in ISO loader, I hope Sony would make the PSP to cache the UMD on the Memory Stick. And by cache, I mean rip/copy the whole UMD to the Memory Stick. I don't care if that copy will be locked on a parituclar PSP (you still have the original UMD anyway) as long as I can rung the game that I bought from the Memory Stick so that games would load faster and that my PSP would have longer battery life.
  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday July 09, 2007 @06:59AM (#19798183)
    Is this really even a story? As long as they continue to make and sell the PSP, the UMD disc is going to be made, too (note, we're not talking about UMD movies). Were you guys expecting them to suddenly release a PSP that uses a different format and is totally incompatible with all previous games out there? Didn't think so. So why is this a surprise?
  • Here to stay... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LKM (227954) on Monday July 09, 2007 @07:29AM (#19798345) Homepage
    Yeah, UMD movies are here to stay. Stay on the shelves of the retailers, that is. There is no space on the market for a format that costs more than DVDs, has less content than DVDs, and can only be played on one single device that isn't selling particularly well.

    Having said that, I will admit that I have actually bought about a dozen UMD movies. Many of the major retailers are or were getting rid of them, and it was possible to buy them for a few bucks. So I have a bunch of unwatched UMDs I can watch if I'm going on a longer train trip. The main issue with that is, of course, that watching UMDs drains the battery much faster than watching movies from the memory stick. On the other hand, they look better...
    • by Endo13 (1000782)

      ...and can only be played on one single device that isn't selling particularly well.
      I have no particular love for Sony (I own a DS not a PSP) but I can't see why people keep claiming that the PSP isn't selling well. In the game console world, it's outselling everything but the Wii and the DS according to the last sales figures I saw. That sounds to me like it's selling alright.
      • by LKM (227954)
        There are 22 million PSPs in the whole world. There's a gazilliontrillion* DVD players in the whole world. The PSP is not a viable target hardware for movies. Whether it is a failure as a portable gaming system is an entirely different question.

        * number made up
  • by syrinx (106469) on Monday July 09, 2007 @09:09AM (#19799149) Homepage
    Remember, they're universal! They can play in your PSP made by Sony, and also can play in...

    um...

    well, an entirely different PSP, also made by Sony!

    Universal!
    • it's "Universal Media" disc not Universal "Media disc"

      Universal refers to the disc's ability to hold multiple kinds of data, games, music or video.

  • Whatever. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by supabeast! (84658) on Monday July 09, 2007 @09:48AM (#19799583)
    $500 is better than $600, but it will still buy me ten games for my Wii, or even more for my DS.

    Of course, if they actually start releasing GOOD movies on Blu-Ray, instead of crappy back-catalog bombs, then I might actually buy one to watch movies. But as long as The Criterion Collection stays on DVD-ROM, no PS3 for me!
    • You realize there was always a $500 PS3, right? The problem with this price cut is that Sony didn't lower their bottom line, they just dropped the price of 40gb of extra hard drive space $100 and offered a new $600 SKU. Sure, you ARE getting 40gb of extra hard drive now, but how much more does this cost Sony? $5-10? This is called marketing. You're not really getting a price cut as much as you're being subjected to a marketing tactic.
  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Monday July 09, 2007 @11:09AM (#19800773)
    "Here to stay" : "We can't *give* the damn things away"

  • Sony seems to totally overlook the negatives to the UMD format. Such as horrendously slow load time and bulky media. Many games are frustratingly slow loading and actually kill the fun of the game. Who wants to wait for fights and stages to load that long? The bulky media is more difficult to take on the road and you definately don't want to just stick a UMD in your pocket. I have no problem doing this with my DS games. The only negative I have with my DS carts are slight space limitations; however, w

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