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Lessons From the HD Format War 308

Posted by Zonk
from the don't-go-down-the-dark-path-forever-will-it-dominate dept.
mlimber writes "The New York Times' Freakonomics blog asks a panel of experts, 'Is the battle between HD-DVD and Blu-ray really over? What can we learn from it?' The panel suggests, among other things, that Sony achieved a Pyrrhic victory because high-def DVDs will be outmoded before they reap enough profits to make up for what they (and Toshiba) paid out for both product development and bribes to win the support of content providers."
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Lessons From the HD Format War

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  • Lesson #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morari (1080535) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:04PM (#22639744) Journal
    No one really cares.
    • Lesson #2 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:24PM (#22640154)
      The merits or flaws of either side can be overcome by paying people off
      • Lesson #1

        Nobody cares.

        Lesson #2
        The merits or flaws of either side can be overcome by paying people off

        Lesson #3 - Re: Lesson #2 - see lesson # 1

        And while we're at it, and before it gets out of hand ...

        Lesson #4 - Re: Lesson # 3: see "recursive"

    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:02PM (#22640900)
      Electricity wars (AC vs DC), tape wars (VHS vs BETA, 8 track vs cassette) or HD Format wars are nothing new and if nobody learnt then, why should anyone learn this time around?
      • Bad comparison (Score:5, Informative)

        by daBass (56811) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:51PM (#22643448)
        Are they really that similar?

        - AC vs. DC: Cheaper and better system won
        - VHS vs. BetaMax: Cheaper, worse system won
        - 8 Track vs. Cassette: cheaper, better system won. (though 8 Track was so retarded, it would have been hard to lose in any case)
        - BR vs. HDDVD: More expensive system won, without a real technological/quality advantage.

        So what could have been learned? What sony should have learned looking at the first three is "the cheaper always wins" and they should have packed up and left. Instead, Sony made a more expensive system and clobbered Toshiba with marketing. And won.
        • by suggsjc (726146) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @06:34PM (#22643920) Homepage

          - AC vs. DC: Cheaper and better system won
          I thought they got over their differences and started a band [wikipedia.org]?
        • Re:Bad comparison (Score:4, Insightful)

          by slashqwerty (1099091) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:56PM (#22645958)
          You need to view it from the position of the content producers since they are really the ones picking what format they will distribute on.


          - VHS vs. BetaMax: Cheaper, better system won. VHS was 'better' because the quality dropped with each copy.
          - 8 Track vs. Cassette: Cheaper, better system won.
          - BR vs. HDDVD: More expensive, better system won. BR is 'better' because it has an extra level of content protection.

          • Re:Bad comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

            by olman (127310) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @07:34AM (#22648024)
            - VHS vs. BetaMax: Cheaper, better system won. VHS was 'better' because the quality dropped with each copy.

            Puh-leeze.

            VHS is the better product. Why?

            Because you could record an entire movie on a single tape right from the beginning. Most people do not view system where you have to change tapes mid-taping as "better".
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by westlake (615356)
          - VHS vs. BetaMax: Cheaper, worse system won

          Beta was introduced before most television sets had comb filtering or a composite video input.

          It predates closed captioning, MTS stereo audio, affordable projection TV. The first Beta VCRs could not record movies or sports on a single tape.

          You have to see the system and the environment as a whole.

          Blu Ray entered a market where the buyer had a substantial existing investment in HD and digital audio. It began with support from almost all the major studios. That i

    • Re:Lesson #1 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @06:16PM (#22643726)

      No one really cares.
      Agreed. Doesn't really matter what source it was ripped from, so long as the torrent's seeded. :)
  • What I learned (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Naughty Bob (1004174) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:06PM (#22639794)
    The lesson I draw is that content providers are wholly opposed to consumers interests, and that open, collaborative standards are the only healthy way forward.
    • Re:What I learned (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RingDev (879105) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:09PM (#22639860) Homepage Journal

      content providers are wholly opposed to consumers interests
      I wouldn't go quite that far. I would say that content providers are wholly interested in making a profit, and the consumers have a strong interest in getting the greatest possible value for their money.

      -Rick
      • by Firehed (942385)
        True. But most consumers are also mind-bogglingly stupid, so the greatest possible value can be just above zero (in this case, improved picture and audio quality wrapped with a ton more DRM at a much higher cost than the alternative) and they'll still buy it.

        You don't need to have much value, just more than your competition; lazy start-ups, take note.

        (also worth noting is that you just have to convince them that value exists; it doesn't have to actually be there, you just need a plausible argument and to o
      • Re:What I learned (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:00PM (#22640876) Homepage Journal

        I would say that content providers are wholly interested in making a profit,

        This isn't clear. With music, DRM is just about dead now: the content providers are really focusing on creating usable/buyable products. That is, they are trying to maximize their profit, rather than, say, Apple's or Pioneer's.

        With video, though, DRM is far from dead. They are still trying to lock people into using specific players and monitors. This is perhaps a move to maximize profits, but not necessarily for the content providers. When you have big players like Sony, who sells both media and the equipment to view that media, things get complex. It looks like there's an effort to maximize profit for the equipment manufacturers and proprietary software companies, rather than the content providers.

        It's accepted that you can now listen to music on whatever you want. (If I sell MP3s or CDDA/wav, I don't have to worry about who can buy it.) But with movies, there's still a fight over what customers should be allowed to watch the movie on. They're still acting like they don't want a free market in playback devices, even if that costs them content sales revenue.

        When the content providers start moving to maximize their own profits (or the profits of their content division, in cases like Sony), you'll know it. It'll be about selling bytes to as many consumers as possible, instead of limiting their sales to the subset of movie watchers who have bought the "right" player products.

        • Re:What I learned (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ccguy (1116865) * on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @04:29PM (#22642318) Homepage

          Sony, who sells both media and the equipment to view that media, things get complex.
          You are forgetting the equipment to _copy_ the media and the _blank_ media. Basically with 100% sony stuff you can make a copy of a DVD you buy from sony pictures and still hear them complain about piracy and them not getting enough money.
    • Consumers' interests? Pfft. We're talking IP protections here!

      And finding a reason to sell millions of people new DVD players.
    • Re:What I learned (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:12PM (#22639920) Homepage

      The lesson I draw is that content providers are wholly opposed to consumers interests, and that open, collaborative standards are the only healthy way forward.

      Of course, it should be noted that the media companies who will be giving us content on these things are not going to participate in "open, collaborative standards" -- it's just not done.

      There will be one, if not two, iterations of the "next next generation" of this technology before you get one that gets adopted as widespread as DVD was. The amount of people with next-gen displays is too small, and too many people are now leery about the next "new hotness" that they'll stay away even more now.

      I'm not saying you don't make a good point. Just, they're not really looking out for your interests here, and they figure they can get everyone to buy a new generation of technology every time they think it's due. Once they come up with the next direction, they'll still change it to &^%& often.

      Cheers
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Naughty Bob (1004174)

        Of course, it should be noted that the media companies who will be giving us content on these things are not going to participate in "open, collaborative standards" -- it's just not done.

        And up until now they'd have gotten away with it. But computer and internet technology is proving to be a great leveler. As humanity find its feet in this brave new digital age, we will find that these middle men are as anachronistic and obsolete as the proverbial buggy-whip makers of a hundred years ago.

        Unite, comrades! (

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gstoddart (321705)

          And up until now they'd have gotten away with it. But computer and internet technology is proving to be a great leveler.

          Sadly, so is the ability to lobby for copyright extension, have that written into international trade agreements, and argue that police should use the pretense of stopping piracy to combat terrorism when they don't have enough real evidence for a warrant.

          The internet may have a natural tendency to push us towards an equal playing field and the like, but the ability to get the lawmakers to

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Naughty Bob (1004174)

            Sadly, so is the ability to lobby for copyright extension, have that written into international trade agreements, and argue that police should use the pretense of stopping piracy to combat terrorism when they don't have enough real evidence for a warrant.

            All true, but everything you say is a short term, political-climate oriented problem; here at the moment, but not necessarily in the future.

            Our killer new technology is going to persist, becoming ever more accessible and advanced. We will win, we're only d

            • by gstoddart (321705)

              All true, but everything you say is a short term, political-climate oriented problem; here at the moment, but not necessarily in the future. ...snip... We will win, we're only discussing how long the corporations' treasure will last in forestalling the inevitable.

              *laugh* Well, you have to pass through the one to get to the other. So it's got to clear that hurdle without getting waylaid.

              Hopefully we get something cool, instead of a Max Headroom future.

              I'm hopeful, but not optimistic about that. :-P

              Cheers

          • Also-

            The future is not utopian

            Agreed, utopias were always an ideal, rather than a realistic goal.

            ... it's far more dystopian than we've hoped.

            Disagree- look around you. We (those with access to slashdot) life in paradise. Actual, here-right-now paradise. We live a life undreamed of by, as far as we know, every instance of sentience that ever existed. Not perfect, but, when viewed without the encumbrances our healthy cynicism generates, shockingly beautiful.

        • Re:What I learned (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DrgnDancer (137700) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @06:17PM (#22643728) Homepage
          While there may be an argument that the "Music Industry" is at least partially redundant, and that the ability of everyday artists to sell themselves in a brave new digital world will eventually weaken or even kill the record company's strangle-hold, I feel this is much less likely with movies. There are two points to consider:

          1) While it is possible to make a pretty good audio recording in a basement with a laptop, and possible to make a studio quality recording for a few hundred bucks of rental time in a studio, it is nearly impossible to make a movie with anything less than hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's for an independent film made on a shoe-string. For a studio quality movie, you're talking a few million minimum. People don't have the money to make video "content" without the backing of large studios. This isn't going to change, these expenses aren't (mostly) going to be affected by technology. They're related to the inherent expense of getting a lot of people and equipment together in one place, feeding them, paying them, making costumes for them, etc. Even if Apple announced tomorrow that it was offering free Power Macs with Final Cut Pro to movie producers, and special effects costs dropped to zero over night, it would still cost millions to make a good movie. Studios are more than middle men, they financiers.

          2) Unlike music, which existed before the modern age, and has business models that could survive an EMP taking out every piece of electronics on the planet; movies are a whole cloth product of the "middle man" era. The studios "own" movie making in a way that the record industry can never "own" music making. I can go to a local bar an see a decent unsigned band, I could learn to play an instrument and make my own music if I wanted. I could never do this with movies (at least beyond the "slightly edited home video" level"). Even "independent" film makers are the owners or employees of studios, just smaller studios. The entire process of making movies, from the production to the distribution is tied to the studio model.

          I just don't see "content" being separated from the "middle man" in this particular industry. At least not any time soon.
      • Will it ? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by aepervius (535155) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:29PM (#22640248)
        When I was young, the number of people which did not have a TV was very small, and mostly it was due to economic reason. Now I don't have one, I know a few people which don't have one (colleagues, friends). Mostly due to lassitude reason (nothing worth to watch), some of us due to more ideological reason. Me I just did not watch it anymore. Entertainment ? I get a better quick "just" hanging out with friends. it is as time consuming but far funnier. Films/series ? Download or rent from video-club. Information ? TV is more biased than any other source, and nowadays the net fulfill that better than Tv will ever do. And I see an increasing number of people joining our rank. TV don't cut it. Internet replace it. TV might never totally disappear but it is getting less relevant as the central "point" of the family.

        So when you say QUOTE "There will be one, if not two, iterations of the "next next generation" of this technology before you get one that gets adopted as widespread as DVD was. The amount of people with next-gen displays is too small, and too many people are now leery about the next "new hotness" that they'll stay away even more now." ENDQUOTE
        Well I disagree. I think new generation teck will NOT bring anything more than DVD brought us. And if it will, it will be at a great loss of liberty (DRM) from a format which for all purpose can be considered to be DRM free so cracked it is... No what i think is that next generations will increasingly go toward the net and drop tv more. IMHO on the "film" playing device field, DVD is the last usable format, and HDDVD/Bluray was the last war. Unless a leap in TV teck happens (3D for example) there won't be any incencitive to really enhancethe format more.
        • by edwdig (47888)
          TV is more biased than any other source

          Try listening to AM radio some time.
        • by techpawn (969834)

          nformation ? TV is more biased than any other source, and nowadays the net fulfill that better than Tv will ever do

          Here Here! I Unplugged the idiot box and have actually become better informed. Between my downtime at work and drive to/from said employment [npr.org] I get a lot of information not presented in the regular infotainment.

          Besides, gave me time to catch up on my reading [slashdot.org]

        • Re:Will it ? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:48PM (#22640620) Homepage

          Download or rent from video-club. Information ? TV is more biased than any other source, and nowadays the net fulfill that better than Tv will ever do. And I see an increasing number of people joining our rank. TV don't cut it. Internet replace it.

          I don't disagree that within some segments of the populace, the TV is trending down. But, more people have TVs than have computers and broadband connection, let alone the savvy to use them for that. It's going to take a long time for that to tip over.

          Between the media companies trying to make sure you'll be able to do less on your PC, and the sheer advantage TV has in terms of installed base, we might eventually get where you're describing, but I see that as being a slightly longer term view than what happens with TV and formats.

          Well I disagree. I think new generation teck will NOT bring anything more than DVD brought us. And if it will, it will be at a great loss of liberty (DRM) from a format which for all purpose can be considered to be DRM free so cracked it is... No what i think is that next generations will increasingly go toward the net and drop tv more.

          Well, again, I don't think that any new format is going to catch up to DVD in terms of installed base. But, I also don't see as wholesale a shift towards internet as a medium. It's gaining, but a lot of people can't afford computers/don't know anything about them. The TV has such an overwhelmingly huge install base as to put it way out front in terms of what any new technology will have to catch up to.

          I don't see that we're fundamentally disagreeing -- I see your vision of moving towards the internet being a more central part of everything happening in parallel to whatever is happening in the TV world. A lot of people in North America still live and die by their TV, and a computer isn't even an equation.

          In either case, the media companies will try to assert greater control over how we use the stuff they sell us. They're going to try to reap as much payment from every time we're exposed to it as they can. And, they're going to try to tell us what it is we really need next so we'll be good little consumers and go out and buy their stuff.

          Unless a leap in TV teck happens (3D for example) there won't be any incencitive to really enhancethe format more.

          Never underestimate the ability of a marketing department to try to convince us we need the next incremental change as much as we need air. :-P But, since I'm ignoring the whole HD thing, I agree 100% with that statement.

          Personally, I find myself moving away from both the TV and the internet as forms of entertainment as time goes on.

          And, if either of us could really meaningfully predict how technology will evolve, we'd be getting paid too much money as consultants to post our WAGs here. ;-)

          Cheers

          • HD pulled me back (Score:3, Interesting)

            by suggsjc (726146)
            I'll keep this short, sweet, and full of nothing but my own opinions. I've watched more TV in the past two months than I have in probably the 6 before it combined. Why? Well, I got a nice HDTV and AnimalPlanetHD, DiscoveryHD and NatGeoHD have actually pulled me back to the TV side. Whats even more interesting is that I'm watching it live (read: with commercials) instead of with TiVo.

            Its possible that the new is going to wear off after I feel like I've "got my money's worth" from my TV, but between tho
        • You sound familiar [theonion.com].
  • I think the major lesson is, if you have a large pool of huge companies supporting you, your format will win. I can think of two reasons off the top of my head why Blue Ray won - Blockbuster and PS3.
  • simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:12PM (#22639922)
    If someone would have made a cheap combo player fast enough that could play both formats, they could have both been making profits instead of one losing money and the other probably still losing money from so many bribes. It's sort of like a betting on a drag race and then spending $20,000 to upgrade your car while the other guy spends $25,000 and the bet is only $1000 so that's all you win. By the time they start turning a profit on blu-ray, the next format will be released.
  • by Alaren (682568) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:14PM (#22639976)

    Apple TV?

    I agree that Sony's fiscal outlay was tremendous, but we're talking about the successor to the DVD. Frankly, I think it's WAY too early to be replacing DVDs--presently, only about 15% of U.S. households [tvpredictions.com] even own an HDTV!

    But that means, when the HDTV revolution really reaches middle America (presumably, sometime after the present "downturn"), Bu-Ray will be there to pick up where DVDs leave off. Then Sony will be making money hand-over-fist. We tech-types like to talk about digital delivery, and digital delivery may very well take hold eventually, eliminating physical media wherever broadband penetration is significant and affordable, but what this additionally means for Sony is that they may have won the last format war, extending Blu-Ray's dominance as the physical medium of choice indefinitely into the foreseeable future. The "successor" to HDTV is going to have to be more than just a resolution upgrade, I think, and without memory-devouring video driving the technical expansion of removable media, Blu-Ray will become the de-facto standard for non-flash-based computer media as well.

    So even if it is overshadowed by flash memory and digital delivery, Blu-Ray is officially here to stay, and in a lot of lucrative consumer markets (especially games and movies). "Pyrrhic" is a pretty short-sighted evaluation, I think.

    • by ePhil_One (634771)
      Frankly, I think it's WAY too early to be replacing DVDs--presently, only about 15% of U.S. households even own an HDTV!

      Yes, but the percentage of that 15% who will be interested in Blu-Ray is perhaps 30-40%, which gives you 5% of households today that are interested, a very good sized market. And the penetration of HDTV will continue to grow, with many sets already below $1,000 and several approaching $500, only kids/kitchen TV's will be 480i in the next few years, and given the size/weight/power advant

      • by edwdig (47888)
        People tend to get at least 10 years out of their TVs, so 5 years from now is when you can expect the majority of primary TVs to be HD. Probably closer to 10 years for the trickle down to secondary TVs.
    • by Sancho (17056)
      People like to hold things in their hands. We're already seeing people who bought into digital downloads losing "their" content due to hardware failure and distributor's inability to allow re-authorization, as well as services simply closing down. Microsoft is in the former category (if your Xbox 360 dies, you will experience problems trying to play downloaded content on your replacement) and Google is in the latter (they closed a video download service, though at least they refunded people their money ev
      • by shmlco (594907) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:47PM (#22643380) Homepage
        "People like to hold things in their hands."

        Actually, I'd say that "some" people like to hold things in their hands. Look at music. Some people may want CDs and covers and liners, while others are perfectly happy having their entire music collection in MP3 on their iPods. Some people print photos and then stuff them in albums and shoeboxes. Others use iPhoto and show people their pictures on their iPhones.

        I, myself, am in the later category. In fact, I'd be more than happy to have ALL of my music and nearly ALL of my books and movies in digital formats. It's much, much, much easier to move a couple of terabyte drives than 50 boxes of books, CDs, and DVDs.
    • Apple TV?

      That would be an exceptionally well-played business move on the part of Apple, considering they are one of the companies that collaborated on Blu-ray.
    • by DrXym (126579)
      Apple TV?

      Until such time as everyone has unlimited fast broadband and the wherewithal to set it up, I don't think physical media has much to worry about from Apple TV or the other similar services.

      If VOD is to succeed it will have to become a no brainer to set up and install by mere mortals. It's going to have to be installed by a service provider and the bandwidth / service guaranteed by the service provider.

      Even then I see VOD more suitable for rental. I have to wonder why anyone would actually *buy

  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by longacre (1090157) * on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:14PM (#22639984) Homepage

    Is the battle between HD-DVD and Blu-ray really over?
    January called, it wants its question back. Also, streaming video is the future, but the distant future. Until the cable companies begin delivering libraries of 1080p on-demand content through their set top boxes, Blu-Ray will pull in plenty of cash.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      Why? just because some over zealous luddites want 1080p content does not mean the bulk of the Tv viewers do. 720P is more than enough to make people really happy. Hell most customers oooh and Ahhh all over their new 720P set watching Comcast HD signal that is so compressed it looks bad. but it looks way better than they know.

      They can stream 720p highly compressed video right now. They can deliver this right now. and guess what the bulk of tv viewers will find it fantastic with only a itty bitty tiny per
      • Re:What? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Gulthek (12570) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:58PM (#22640840) Homepage Journal
        just because some over zealous luddites want 1080p content does not mean the bulk of the Tv viewers do.

        That word doesn't mean what you think it means. In fact, it means the exact opposite of what you think it means.

        Also, everyone I know who has seen real HD content (either HDDVD or Bluray) agree that DVD pales in comparison. My wife and I bought 'Hot Fuzz' on HDDVD and watched it about 3/4ths of the way through when we ran into disc corruption problems. While we, of course, got the disc replaced, to finish the movie we flipped it over to the DVD side. A huge drop in quality was quite apparent. Ditto for a straight up DVD version of the movie.
        • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:40PM (#22641604)

          While we, of course, got the disc replaced, to finish the movie we flipped it over to the DVD side. A huge drop in quality was quite apparent. Ditto for a straight up DVD version of the movie.
          I don't know about that title specifically, but there is a lot of suspicion that the studios have been releasing deliberately crappy DVD versions recently. Some people are convinced that the recent Harry Potter sequels and the recent Pirates of the Caribbean sequels look significantly worse on DVD than the first movies in each franchise do - despite having the benefit of new and improved mastering systems.

          The conspiracy theory is that the studios have been doing that specifically to boost the perceived improvement of the HD releases of the sequels and figuring that the people who are DVD-only will never notice the difference because comparing different movies is subjective anyway.
  • by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:21PM (#22640100)
    Why is it that the move to digital only for movies is considered a forgone conclusion?

    I understand that all the cool kids are badmouthing physical media, but we aren't there yet. Full DVD quality movies aren't commonly available for download through licensed stores. It still takes a relatively long time to download the movies that are available. And services like netflix aren't doing a lot of streaming compared to the number of customers that are eligible for service.

    We aren't yet to the point where we, at least Americans, are considered to have the right under the doctrine of fair use to put all of our movies, songs, etc., onto a single device at home, let alone streaming it over the net to just the person that paid for the files.

    The way that things are moving, I hardly think that we've gotten to the point where Sony and the Blu-ray camp can't turn a profit on the format. Sure they can't turn the profit that they would have turned had they been able to settle this quickly, but I see no reason to assume that they won't manage to turn a profit on it.

    There isn't any real reason why people need more resolution than either format provides. The only reason to have more resolution is to view it bigger at a closer distance, and with current HD technology, the size of the room required to properly view are getting ridiculous.
    • Even at close distance the improved resolution is noticeable, so youre wrong. It is worthwhile but not worth $400. I do think that it would be nice to have when prices on the players come down quite a bit. I do agree as well we are a way from digital downloads of movies, maybe for low quality video, but I think there are those who want the higher quality video as well which can take up 50 gb. Even once you gave them downloaded, you will want a disc drive to store the movies on, since having hard drive space
    • by The-Bus (138060)
      Because it's happened to music? Convenience trumped quality. I still prefer to buy CDs as opposed to buying them on iTunes, but that has little to do with the "new format" and more to do with my problems with the iTMS. When I buy CDs, I rip them, organize them on my computer/player, and put the CD away.

      Now, movies are much less portable. (Note I'm saying "movies" here, not video). Sure, some people like to watch movies on portable devices, but those people are "being cheated" [youtube.com] out of the experience. When you
    • on a separate, but very related issue about the disc versus download:

      As a PC gamer for years I have collected a ton of games on CDrom and DVD. Doubly so with Xbox, PS2, and the 360. But in the last year or so every PC game I have purchased (ok maybe 90%) have all been purchased online either through Steam, Direct2Drive, or EA online (guess they choose not to play nice with others). This is actually very preferable to me however because not only do I not have another useless CD i have to keep putting in w
  • Early Adoption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrWho520 (655973) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:25PM (#22640170) Journal
    1) If you have not figured it out yet, early adoption can bite you is the ass. (Just wait for DR-DVD v2 to render every player but the PS3 obsolete.)
    2) If you shell out enough cash to content producers during early adoption, the market never has a chance to affect the outcome.
    3) Giving away the razors (PS3 compared to vanilla BR-DVD player) and selling the hell out of the blades is still a viable business model.

    The only thing that remains to be seen is whether on-demand streaming content will come to market soon enough and be enticing enough to defeat BR-DVD before Sony sees a return on its investment.
  • Outmoded? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GroundBounce (20126) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:34PM (#22640326)
    CD's were outmoded 10+ years ago but are still the dominant format for music distribution. Likewise, standard DVD's will be around for a long time to follow. The large installed base of players and other equipment will ensure that any format that gets widespread adoption will remain in use (and presumably profitable) long after it is technically outmoded.
  • So annoying... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wamerocity (1106155) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:35PM (#22640352) Journal
    I get really annoyed every time this gets brought up with the claims that any benefits Bluray gives will soon be overshadowed by HD download services. HD download services are great, except I see a few problems with it.

    1 - Heavy DRM - Yes Bluray has DRM too, but you can TAKE IT WITH YOU. The technology is still prohibitively expensive to start making portable bluray players, and in dash bluray players for cars, but there is NO HD download service I'm aware that lets you burn the files and keep them forever to watch. They are mostly rental services - basically you download them on your Apple TV or computers, watch it in a 24 hour period and its gone. In time, those devices will be made cheaper, and will become reasonably priced.

    2 - Downloadable content doesn't look nearly as good a trueHD stuff does. I realize that for many people it doesn't matter, because the majority of TV's that were purchased early on (and therefore a big chunk of the ones in households) are only 720P. But 1080 displays are becoming the new standard and fewer 720 displays are being made. a 3GB 720 file doesn't offer much more clarity than just a standard DVD. Yes I know, many people are going to shout that DVD's are GOOD ENOUGH. Fine. VCR tapes were GOOD ENOUGH too. So are YouTube videos for some people. Big whoop. Watching low quality 720p on a 1080 display just doesn't look as good as a true 1080 picture with 25-35Mbit quality.

    3. To get a decent quality picture, you need to have download a big file, and that requires fast internet connections. American download speeds are pitiful compared to the rest of the world. If you wanted to download a 5GB movie, that's going to take you SEVERAL hours to complete, as opposed to just driving a few miles to the nearest blockbuster r RedBox (which WILL be getting bluray discs inevitably)

    4. Bluray adoption has taken off faster than DVD adoption did. I somehow doubt people are going to give up on buying discs they can KEEP and watch OVER AND OVER, with a download service that offers inferior quality, short watching time, and long waits to watch. But who knows, maybe in 2 years from now I'll be eating those words, but I doubt. Anything you can say about HD downloads applies to SD quality movies as well, and DVD sales aren't really being eaten into like people predicted it would downloadable content. Begin modding me down...NOW!
    • Re:So annoying... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by D4MO (78537) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:08PM (#22641004)
      1. The rental services will come, quicker than bluray in dash players for cars. Until then, renting\buying DVD's that you can TAKE WITH YOU and will work in all that hardware that people have already invested money in will remain the status quo for some time. Expect amazon to build a kindle for movies.

      2. Yes they are GOOD ENOUGH. TruHD does look better, but not BETTER ENOUGH. People don't really care. I don't really care if I watch Lost at 480p, 720p or 1080p, and I'm not mr.average.

      3. There are solutions to this: The 360 will allow you to play the move while it's being download. Sky+ allow you to record a program via your phone, so expect ways to tell your provider to start content delivery so it's there when get home. Also expect them to be Tivo like and pre-deliver content based on your preferences. The top 20 rentals may already be downloaded. Episodes may already be download as soon as they are reldased. I hope to be just sitting there and a message pops up on my TV - "Latest episode of Top Gear ready for viewing". I imagine the content delivery will come from caching service on ISP's own network too. Downloading 5GB is already faster than buying from an online store and waiting for it to be shipped. Alternative is to get in the car and go to a store that may not even have it, and anyway I couldn't be bothered getting off the couch when I can order it with my remote.

      4. Adoption for new tech is much faster now than in 1995, the lauch year of the DVD. Most people didn't have internet connections then. Information flows faster, people are more informed. The movie ownership facility will come too, just like MP3 stores today with no DRM.

      New physical media and new hardware for digital distribuion will have a very short lifespan.

      (Why can't I just download new 360 games? Because MS doesn't want to sour releationship with retail channel who are pushing the hardware, god damnit.)
    • "a 5GB movie, that's going to take you SEVERAL hours to complete"

      At the speeds I get where I live, a 5GB download would take over 10 hours, and during that time, my connection would be very slow for anything else. With a service like Netflix, I can keep disks coming almost as fast as I could download them without even having to leave the house or honk down my connection. Granted, they are still rentals and you can't (legally) keep them, but you will still get the quality advantage.

      Yes, in urban areas wher
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Yes I know, many people are going to shout that DVD's are GOOD ENOUGH. Fine. VCR tapes were GOOD ENOUGH too.

      Generally, I agree with your post, except for the above.

      On the exact same TV, the difference between DVD and VHS was directly apparent; the picture quality was way better, and very obvious. IMO, that's why it became adopted so widely -- you could get a noticeable improvement on the same display. Eventually when a DVD player was $40, everyone upgraded. But, I'm going to do what you said someone woul

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by amRadioHed (463061)

      Yes I know, many people are going to shout that DVD's are GOOD ENOUGH. Fine. VCR tapes were GOOD ENOUGH too.

      DVDs are good enough for most people. VCR tapes aren't instant access. They wear out and lose quality over time. They are much bigger and harder to store than DVDs. These are the reasons why people would never give up their DVDs for tapes again, it has little to do with resolution.

      Bluray OTOH has nothing to offer but resolution as reason to upgrade from DVD and that's not enough for me and many other people.

  • by 200_success (623160) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:41PM (#22640468)

    This format war was fought through movie studios, but interestingly most consumers don't really care what discs their movies come on. Whether on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, the movies play essentially the same way. Hell, DVDs are good enough for movies -- the resolution is good enough, and the run-time of a DVD is longer than the length of time that you can sit still on your butt.

    On the other hand, DVDs will soon become obsolete as a data storage medium. Remember when an entire OS came on a CD-ROM, and you could back up your hard drive onto a couple of DVD+-R? Now operating systems come on DVDs, and only sane backup medium for most consumers is another hard disk. For that, I'm glad that the higher-capacity Blu-Ray standard won, and hopefully Blu-Ray burners will be cheap enough by the time the need arises.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Blu-Ray movies never replace DVDs, but Blu-Ray burners become standard on computers.

  • Interesting that most of the economists talked about downloads as if they would slay Blu-Ray.
    Until Comcast allows me to download 50GB of data in 5 minutes, Blu-Ray (along with Netflix and the USPO) wins.
    Not to say that streaming isn't nice, but until hiccups in the delivery system are ironed out, along with some ownership rights, physical media will always win over electronic media.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:56PM (#22640808) Journal

    Tell me please exactly HOW digital downloads are going to happen. There is a reason a new disc was needed for HD, movies take up a LOT of space. Even recompressed a HD movie is several GB, how are people going to download this when there are plenty of ISP's that limit you to several GB per month? That's right, thanks to our ISP's we could MAYBE just download a SINGLE movie before being cutoff. What about the speed? What if I got only a work laptop? Meaning I can only leave it on for a couple of hours when I am home? Do you think your average ISP connection is fast enough for that? Where do I store it all?

    Oh sure DESKTOP HD's are getting bigger all the time but what is a blue-ray or HD-DVD movie, 40-50 GB? That means a large HD can only hold 10 movies. Not much if you consider how many DVD's movie BUYERS got. Some people I know got large enough collection to stretch the capacity of pro-sumer level NAT storage, how the fuck are they going to find enough computer storage to store all this in HD?

    Then offcourse you need to hook up this storage to the TV, how is this done?

    Oh yes, there are solutions and workarounds a plenty, but I don't see any it being adopted anytime soon, just as MOVIE projectors BEFORE VHS were NOT popular.Oh right, some of you younger ones may not know this. No VHS did NOT mean the start of the movie rental business. It was available LONG before. You could always just rent a projector and some movies and real enthousiats had their own setup. But it was far to much of a hassle for the general public.

    VHS made it easy NOT just to record your own shows, but to simply pop down the corner rental story, rent a movie and watch it.

    This lead to a huge boom in the industry for a bit with countless stores opening.

    It lost its luster a bit, partially because many more TV channels became available all catering to their own crowd. Simply watching whatever the tube feeds you after all is still easier.

    But watch HD movies from a PC, that is a lot of hassle, NO, we on slashdot CANNOT judge this. People who compile their own kernel are naturally going to be a bit more inclined to be tech savy then those whose VCR has a blinking clock.

    iTunes? iTunes is a joke, its sales are pathetic if you consider the market it operates in. Do the math, how many BILLIONS of consumers does it reach and how many SONGS (SONGS! Not full albums) has it sold? iTunes is the biggest online store, but compared to offline sales it just doesn't compare.

    There have been several attempt at on-demand and download services and THEY ALL FAILED.

    Don't get me wrong, it is OBVIOUSLY the future, but the future ain't here yet. At the moment we just don't have the tech to handle that amount of content without a shiny disc to put it on.

    What people tend to forget is how slow things really change. DVD's didn't replace VHS for years. LP's sold for ages beside CD's. Digital download has been a dream for as long the internet came into existence and it just isn't ready yet. Just ask youtube why they don't serve all their vidoes in HD. Their servers, would choke and it would mean you would have to pick your movie now if you want to watch it over the weekend.

    And then their is that shiny Blu-Ray disc in a store or rental place, you can pick it up, slot it in and watch it. No PC whining, no ISP complaining, no harddisk screaming for mercy. It just works.

    I think downloads are going to have to wait a bit until those parts of the world who are willing to pay for their content can get their downloads as easy as a disc.

    • by Sloppy (14984)

      Tell me please exactly HOW digital downloads are going to happen.

      Here's something to think about: it's already happening, right under your nose.

      Go to anyone's house who has a HDTV, and turn it on. You'll see that countless gigabytes of high-definition video are pouring into that house, 24x7, either through an antenna, or through a cable.

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      Tell me please exactly HOW digital downloads are going to happen. There is a reason a new disc was needed for HD, movies take up a LOT of space. Even recompressed a HD movie is several GB, how are people going to download this when there are plenty of ISP's that limit you to several GB per month? That's right, thanks to our ISP's we could MAYBE just download a SINGLE movie before being cutoff. What about the speed? What if I got only a work laptop? Meaning I can only leave it on for a couple of hours when I

  • LaserDisc? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tgd (2822) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @02:56PM (#22640810)
    Why do people always call that out as an example of a "lost" format war?

    They were available for 20 years with virtually every movie released on them that anyone would want to own. (Keep in mind they predated the VHS/Beta "war"). The only thing that took them out was a new technology two generations removed which offered significant savings to content producers.
  • by hudsonhawk (148194) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:00PM (#22640884)
    I learned that the kind of insane balkanization of consumer products that we see with gaming consoles is spreading to other areas. That the us vs. them rhetoric that was once only found in the realms of religion and politics is now bleeding into online flame wars about which corporate-backed digital movie format is better.
  • by Ranger (1783)
    That industry didn't learn their lesson from the Betamax-VHS war.
  • The format war was evenly-matched for a while, but I think the PS3 tipped the scales just enough. The PS3 sold really well despite its high price and put Blu-Ray into over 1 million extra homes.
  • by Cochonou (576531) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @03:15PM (#22641150) Homepage
    In December, one month before the Warner Bros. announcement, you could read such things:

    "Both formats will be established and co-exist for the foreseeable future," said Helen Davis Jayalath, senior analyst at Screen Digest. "By 2012, U.S. high-def software will be evenly split between the two formats, where Blu-ray represents 55% of the market and HD DVD represents 45%. But high-def formats won't boost volume sales [for home entertainment] to the degree that DVD did [over VHS]. Backwards compatibility and upscaling reduces consumers' desire to replace existing DVDs."

    Globally the software split will be 60% Blu-ray; 40% HD DVD, she added.

    By 2012, standard DVD discs will total $10 billion in U.S. consumer sales, HD DVD $5 billion and Blu-ray $5 billion, estimates Adams Media Research, which recently became a subsidiary to Screen Media.

    You may be an expert in your field, but that doesn't mean you can read into the future, as there is no such thing as a crystal ball. I am sure a lot of corporations would like experts to always make correct predictions on market trends. That would make their life much easier. But this is not really how it works out.
  • To explain where I come from, I own an HDTV, have a PS3, and want an AppleTV.

    I just realized something.. For YEARS TV broadcast quality was much better than VHS home entertainment. Came along DVD's and that leveled the playing field and actually made home entertainment better than broadcast quality.

    HDTV is around now. Blu-ray is better than broadcast quality, but it's too expensive for the masses. The consumers of today want instant gratification and complete turnkey solutions. History shows us that a
  • I do think that the reason for standards has been shown to be important. it has delayed the acceptance of HD disks by years and delayed them becoming more common. I dont think it can be argued that several competing formats is a good thing, you want a choice of players and manufacturers, a format does need to be well designed but there isnt room for many of them in this area.

    I also do think HD disks due offer significantly better picture. I have seen both DVD and HD disks and the latter are much better, the
  • HD-DVD does not necessarily have to become a niche product. I have had a DVR-R burner in my PC for a few years now, and I only use it for backing up data. I don't own a HDTV, so having a commercial HD player doesn't make much sense. Just because the major multimedia companies are all backing blu-ray does not mean that HD-DVD loses. The first format that offers me a HD writer at a reasonable cost for both the DVD writer and blank media will get my wallet.
  • It appears that the analysts agree that both sides lost, and that Sony and Toshiba just should have agreed to work together from the start. While they were battling it out, wasting time and lots and lots of money, their enemies got stronger (download services got better, and upconverting technology improved).
    I guess, after all, a format war is just like any other war - there are no winners, only losers, but one side loses a little less.
  • by dotwaffle (610149) <slashdot@@@walster...org> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @06:44PM (#22644004) Homepage
    Let's look at the history of media, shall we?

    People moved from watching on TV to watching the VHS because you could watch it when you want.
    People moved from watching on VHS to watching on DVD because you didn't have to bother with rewinding etc, and it didn't degrade over time. (ish - most people believe their CD-Rs will last for ever, let alone DVD-R)
    People moved from Analogue to Digital (in the UK) because Sky and Virgin (was NTL was whatever) gave you more channels and it was free-ish.

    Why would people move from DVD to BluRay? Seriously - why? My mum watches Sky TV in a low bitrate MPEG-2 from Sky TV and can't see the difference on her 42" TV versus the crystal clear analogue signal, versus one of the HD-DVDs I have.

    People don't care about quality - as long as it's "good enough". Why else would people dump CDs - the ultimate in digital formats of the 20th century, for crappy 128kbit MP3s?

    Well, negating the "that's all that's available" and the "they're all that they can pirate" arguments at least.

    DVD is good enough. It'll be here for a long while yet. And when it does die - we'll have storage nodes in every DSLAM to handle digital downloads of all the big films.

    Let the flamewar begin.

The bogosity meter just pegged.

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