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In Sony's Stumble, the Ghost of Betamax

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the strange-sense-of-deja-vu dept.

356

QuatermassX writes "In a lengthy piece in today's New York Times, Ken Belson equates Sony's troubles in bringing Blu-Ray to market with their classic fumble of Betamax technology in the early 1980's. He also discusses the influence of Microsoft in the recent advances in the adoption of the perceived underdog in this fight, HD-DVD. The article also summarises the various twists and turns in the development of the format along with some scary numbers (that we're familiar with) on the estimated cost of Playstation 3 From TFA: "There are other industry analysts who contend that Microsoft is simply propping up Toshiba to further its own aims, like countering the PlayStation and combating the spread of Sun's Java software. Nonetheless, Toshiba is happy for the backing, given that the format was written off for dead just a few months ago. '"There's no doubt that everyone has various agendas," said Mark Knox, an adviser to the Toshiba promotion group. "But whatever their agenda, Microsoft's support has been a huge boon to HD-DVD.'""

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Java and No Copy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803883)

Java and no guaranteed copy / usage (even DRM controlled) on Blue-ray makes me want the HD-DVD spec.

Plus, Sony has played badly in this entire space, top to bottom.

Hate's iTunes, sony and their subsidiaries keep on skipping out of launches.

DRM without care on CDs, including rootkits

Proprietary everything, from MiniDisk to MemoryStick. Gah! Their first ebook reader was horrible.

So, based on that alone I'd take a computer company, because there are going to be lots more decisions down the line to be made, and I sure don't want Sony making them!

Re:Java and No Copy (2, Insightful)

augustz (18082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803910)

"Microsoft's announcement last September raised alarm bells at Hewlett-Packard, which was coming to similar conclusions. Hewlett-Packard worried that the software included in the Blu-ray format would cost so much in royalties that H-P would be unable to add affordable DVD drives to its computers."

From the article, which goes on to say Blue-ray hasn't set royalty rates yet.

Yowks.

Re:Java and No Copy (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804033)

The deal apparently is that certain parts of HD-DVD will be included "for free" in Windows Vista -- including the iHD navigation software and the MS VC-9 codec -- that someone would otherwise have to pay for with Bluray.

There's also the argument that MS is up-in-arms about Blu-Ray's requirement of a JVM, but I think HP/Dell/etc all already bundle Sun Java.

HD DVD is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804114)

It works better on Windows than on any other device, providing additional features. So electronics manufacturers will only play lip service to it.

It has 'managed copying' with phone home spyware features, so home users won't want it.

Sony Underestimates Microsoft (1)

Susceptor (559115) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804149)

Poor Sony. They try so hard, but keep making all the wrong choices. Why would they build a machine (PS3) that costs $900 to manufacture? It will take them years and years to recoup the cost, which is why Sony is now sayng that they expect PS3 to last 10 years as opposed to the regular 5-6 lifespan of past consoles. of course the reason for this is abvious, Sony will only break even 5 years down the road on the hardware, so it really needs the system to last that long in order for Sony to make any profit at all. but if you look at what Microsoft has been doing, it's actually moving in the opposite dirrection. Microsofts Xbox 360 was released 4 years after the original Xbox. Microsoft is intentionally decreasing the development of the news systems so it can leapfrog to greater market share with it's new hardware. So yes the 360 is not as powerful as PS3, but it costthem half what it cost Sony to produce their machine, and who wants to bet that in another 4 years Microsoft will release another system (Xbox 720?) that will leapfrog PS3, just as the PS3 is finally becoming profitable for Sony. I think Sony has become a bit complacent...technological change accelerates, yes Sony seems to be moving in the opposite dirrection with their production cycles as the hardware gets more and more expensive. The problem is, Sony is not competing with the likes of Sega or Nintendo anymore. It's competing with a company that has billions of dollars in cash to spend at a whim (microsoft). That's a whole different ballpark, and Sony is going to have to be a lot more competitive if it wants to stay on top...saying that the PS3 is going to last 10 years is just not the way to do it whenyour competitor is actually moving the other way, and reducing production cycles.

Re:Sony Underestimates Microsoft (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804321)

Why would they build a machine (PS3) that costs $900 to manufacture?

Don't believe everything you read on teh intarweb, son. It makes you look like a fag.

Your post sucks so much... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804210)

...that its name should be Hoover. Here's for a -1 post, you gay FP'er, Suck my balls. Eat dung. Eat my DONG. Okay, I've definitely wasted a karma point now, so my job here is done.
 
One more to hammer home the point. You moderators are gay!!!!!1

Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (5, Interesting)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803886)

OK, so originally Blu-Ray and HD-DVD were going to be very different technologies. HD-DVD was supposed to be a quick and cheap evolution of the existing DVD spec -- small capacity red-laser disks that used advanced codecs such as H.264 to store HD video. Blu-Ray on the other hand was super high-tech high-capacity blue laser disks but still depended on MPEG-2.

But since the war of words has started, each format adopted each other's features. Now they *both* have Blue lasers, both have all the same advanced codecs, and even both have the same copy-protection system, all adding engineering and patent license costs. To top it off, HDDVD didn't get to market early, and thy are both likely to be on shelves this holiday consumption season. In short the differences are now pointless from the consumer's standpoint -- it doesn't really matter which one wins.

It's been speculated that Microsoft is trying to up-the-ante by backing HD-DVD heavily. Either to force a merger between the formats (and patent pools), or to stall the market until computer-based VOD can take over.

What scares me (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803914)

is that I find myself wanting the side Microsoft is on to win.

Re:What scares me (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803955)

Why does someone need to win? Considering the DRM crap in each, I'd prefer both to lose.

Re:What scares me (1)

keraneuology (760918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804286)

Yet I'll bet that you'll still give money to various artists/corporations. If everybody in the country boycotted ALL music, concerts, T-Shirts and movies then they'd stop forcing DRM down our throats. But they are still raking in money hand over fist so they'll continue to act as they do.

After all of the rootkit fuss Sony still didn't feel a thing in the revenue streams. People don't care, DRM is here to stay, nothing can be done.

Re:What scares me (2)

Troed (102527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804071)

Why? The DRM difference between HD-DVD and Blu-ray is down to almost nothing. Except for that little difference, Blu-ray wins hands down on everything.

As far as I've been able to deduce, the DRM difference is this: When you publish content on HD-DVD you _must_ include managed copying. However (and this is the catch!) you're free to charge whatever you want for it.

With Blu-ray you (the content publisher) deside for yourself whether you want to include managed copy or not.

In reality I'm quite sure the end customer won't see a difference. If the publisher doesn't want managed copying they'll opt out of it on Blu-ray and make it extremely expensive on HD-DVD.

more info [cdfreaks.com]

Re:Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (2, Insightful)

Ragnarrokk (906696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803932)

Considering consumers arn't going to be rash when they buy a several hundred/thousand dollar media player for Hi-Def disks, how many people are *really* going to pick up a next generation player? People remember the betamax affair, and know that this could ultimately get messy. Everyone will wait until companies solve their petty squabbles.

As for me, I'll continue not caring about slightly higher definition movies packed onto highly DRMed disks costing more and delivering little. Apart from as a medium for extra storage and backup, is any geek here really all too excited about the next-gen media?

``Marcel

Re:Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (1)

Androclese (627848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804133)

[H]ow many people are *really* going to pick up a next generation player?

Me. Along with hundreds of thousands of others when we get our PS3's.

Re:Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (1)

tealover (187148) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804225)

If SOny releases a $400 or $500 PS3, what incentive is there for its Blue-Ray partners to release simarly priced players? BlueRay will be dud for them.

Re:Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804226)

Actually the crushing majority of consumers, haven't even heard of betamax or won't be influencized by history. The average consumer can't tell the diference between 1080p and 480p, I can even see a lot of HDTV owners pluging theirs DVDs in their Coax ignoring what those other plugs are for.
Until there's a massive migration to affordable(I mean as affordable as current DVD-quality systems), these new formats are not gonna make it to the average people.

Re:Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (2, Insightful)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804276)

People remember the betamax affair, and know that this could ultimately get messy. Everyone will wait until companies solve their petty squabbles.

This is a misreading of what happened with Betamax. IIRC, the marketshare figures went something like this:

Year 1: 40% VHS 60% Beta (Beta was out first)
Year 2: 50% VHS 50% Beta (Tie -- either format could win!)
Year 3: 90% VHS 10% Beta (Cheap VHS players destroy Beta quickly)

So, it's not that consumers waited. Once VHS was established, they all just went and bought it because it was cheaper.

(Also, Hollywood was also "neutral" in the VHS/Betamax war, which they certainly aren't in this format war.)

Re:Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804058)

(1) The name is "HD DVD", use a space not a minus : http://www.dvdforum.org/hddvd-tech.htm [dvdforum.org]

(2) BD has always had MPEG4-AVC / H.264 as one of its mandatory decoders.

(3) It's up to the movie companies to decide between mpeg2, mpeg4 og vc1 for each title.

(4) Some of the first BD titles will most probably be MPEG2 and of equal or better quality than MPEG4 titles, since the MPEG2 encoders are more mature and BD has the space to spare for the extra bandwidth of MPEG2.

(5) For use as a R/RW disc at home, BD's 66% extra space, faster access and faster read/write makes it the CLEAR winner.

Re:Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (4, Insightful)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804091)

(1) Who cares.
(2-4) Possibly true, but the hype circa 2002-2003 didn't reflect this. (eg http://tokyopia.com/tk/archives/000094.php [tokyopia.com] )

(5) True. But what the IT industry really needs is another Syquest or Iomega to come along and define a storage-centric format -- without all the bullshit politics surrounding Hollywood and video game consoles, and the enormous license royalties involved.

Re:Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (1)

erikdalen (99500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804237)

But what the IT industry really needs is another Syquest or Iomega to come along and define a storage-centric format -- without all the bullshit politics surrounding Hollywood and video game consoles, and the enormous license royalties involved.

They already have: USB-drives.

/Erik

Re:Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804065)

Exactly. Whatever the Chineese manufacturers are designing now is what needs to be the standard. It will be Patent free so everyone can make record profits off it. It will simply work which will also make everyone rich, and will only piss off those that want to shut out everyone else.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

The previous technological giants are incapable of making anything now without trying to make obscene amounts of money and build in tools to hurt competition. Open specs let everyone get rich on their own merit.

I know unamerican allowing others to get rich. But that is the new economy. You have to do innovatve things like make a better product or offer better service and not the old ways of simply hurting everyone else so your low grade crap will look better.

the CEO's of this planet have the lowest IQ's of the population.

The Formt war that never was (5, Insightful)

thedletterman (926787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804082)

I mean seriously, with over half a billion households around the world sporting a Playstation 2 or Xbox or both, it's really no doubt in my mind that this format war will wage itself in the multibillion dollar gaming industry. Here's were Microsoft has seriously made the fatal mistake that already lost the war.

While PS3 will natively support BlueRay (Meaning the games can store upto 50GB of high resolution textures and map data, etc.), the Xbox 360 will not support HDDVD games. This ended the war in my mind. Who the hell is going to spend several hundred dollars for a cumbersome ADDON HD-DVD player for their xbox 360, JUST to watch movies?

Thinking they could overtake a large chunk of Japanese market by rushing their product out, even a year ahead of the Sony device, was the greatest folly Microsoft could have committed. Had they REALLY supported HDDVD, they would have waited to bring their product to market, and included a HD-DVD player standard.

BlueRay has won the format wars before they even begun. Look at how profitable Sony made the completely proprietary UMD movie simply because they can profit from their own film distribution division. Neither Microsoft, nor the Toshiba consortium, have this advantange. Thus laying the final nail in the coffin.

Re:The Formt war that never was (2, Insightful)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804156)

There's no doubt that 90% of the support for Blu-Ray is not due to technical factors, but instead based on the plan that Sony will be massively subsidizing it with the Playstation 3.

But, from Microsoft's perspective, the disk battle isn't really that important. In fact it barely makes a difference to them -- they're just involved to fuck shit up.

For MS, having the XBox360 succeed is much more important than having HD-DVD succeed. And now it looks like XBox360 will be on the market 1.5 years eariler than PS3 and be substantially cheaper to build. That might not be the decisive factor in the video game wars, but it certainly helps them. So, I think they made the right decision to not wait for HD-DVD and just sell video games while Hollywood&Japan has their idiotic format war.

(Note, I don't play console games [made after 1988], I don't really care who "wins", and I'm going to avoid any fanboy arguments. Just stating what MS's strategy seems to be.)

Stop this fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804272)

"Look at how profitable Sony made the completely proprietary UMD movie"

Probably "not at all" is a reasonable guess.

Sony has priced UMD content higher than DVD content, and other than a blip when it was released, UMD content is dying on the shelf.

[by the way, do you know why it's more expensive? That's right kids, no competition, again proving that piracy lowers price to consumer and is thus consumer friendly.]

Re:Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804090)

Re:Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804141)

Well, everything I've heard from the start was that HD DVD would be about 15GB/platter, in other words not using standard DVD discs, but with far smaller modifications than Blu-Ray. Then there was some noise about Blu-Ray pulling a fast one and coming out with "Red-Ray" - essentially what HD DVD was promising but on regular DVD discs. Hasn't happened but since HD DVD hasn't gotten to market there was no rush. Now their top priority is to bring down the cost of players, which I expect will happen with the PS3. I've certainly got no doubt that if you need an HiDef player NOWNOWNOW, you'll pay a helluva lot more than in a year's time.

Re:Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD is stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804179)

Whether you're interested in advanced content or not, that is one area where the two differ most significantly. One is Java based, the other via markup.

Here we go (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803887)

And cue the first "OMG r00tk1t" comment in 5, 4, 3, 2...

Re:Here we go (1)

9Nails (634052) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804063)

Precisely!

Does consumer forgive Sony for the rootkit incident, or does consumer boycott such a company as it is unhealthy for them to put trust in the great rootkit proponent? Vote with your dollars people. Polls will be open soon.

Re:Here we go (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804171)

I will be voting with my dollars - as I buy a PS3. People can try to bring the rootkit thing up as much as they want - it's not going to change my point of view, and I'm sure a lot of people feel the same way.

Company types (4, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803899)

Some companies want to provide products or services that people want, need, and use. Other companies want to ram proprietary crap down peoples throat so they get a lock on the market. Would you like to gess what kind of attitude SONY has after their rootkit scandal, and Microsoft has after their backing of SCO? INHO, we need a non proprietary standard, not a "better" one.

Re:Company types (1)

cswiger2005 (905744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804244)

Agreed, but it's not just Sony and Microsoft that are persuing odious tactics with regard to closed standards, pretty much every part of the DVD-related industry is playing these sort of games: the "no, you don't own that fancy new DVD you just purchased, you only have a license to use it at home with a HDCP-encumbered Blu-Ray or HD-DVD player connected to an HDCP-encumbered TV".

Fact is, the companies involved here are writing products to suit themselves rather than the customers. I don't mind going with a proprietary solution that suits my needs, but why should I purchase a proprietary solution that doesn't?

Therefore, I don't plan on purchasing either format anytime soon, nor do I plan to get either a Sony PS3 or an Xbox, as a result of this infighting.

TFA in full to save you registering (5, Informative)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803902)

BTW user:bugmenot, pass:bugmenot works fine

In Sony's Stumble, the Ghost of Betamax
By KEN BELSON

AT first glance, Amir Majidimehr does not look like a game-changer in the battle to develop the next generation of DVD players and discs. As the vice president for Windows digital media at Microsoft, he neither steers a Hollywood studio nor controls one of the many consumer electronics giants that are betting billions of dollars on one of the two new formats that promise to play high-definition movies and television shows.

Yet when he and his team in Redmond, Wash., decided last September to abandon their neutral stance and to support Toshiba and its HD-DVD standard over the Blu-ray format led by Sony, the unexpected change of heart reverberated through the technology industry.

Suddenly, Toshiba's seemingly quixotic defense of its format had new life. Intel joined Microsoft in backing HD-DVD. Hewlett-Packard withdrew its exclusive support of Blu-ray. This month, another member of the Blu-ray camp, LG Electronics, hedged its bets, too, signing a deal to license Toshiba's technology.

And earlier this month, one of the main reasons underpinning Microsoft's move to shuck its neutrality the complexity of producing Blu-ray technology led to Sony's acknowledgment that it might delay this spring's scheduled release of its PlayStation 3 game console partly because the needed technology was still being worked out.

The possible delay and the Blu-ray group's loss of its once-commanding lead are not encouraging developments for Sony in its attempt to revive its electronics group after a series of bungles. PlayStation 3 is crucial to Sony's future, and not only because the latest version of its gaming consoles could generate billions in revenue; the new machines will include disc drives that will turn them into Blu-ray DVD players as well.

"The PlayStation is more than a game system to them; it's one of their attempts to own the digital living room," said Robert Heiblim, a consultant to electronics companies. "Blu-ray is also critically important to get right. They don't want to be weak in an area they feel they can dominate."

A DECADE ago, a prospective death match between competing first-generation DVD players was averted when Sony and Philips agreed to back down and join the Toshiba/Warner Brothers side, in exchange for a share of royalties that all DVD player producers pay to the format's creator. Now, no truce seems near, as neither side wants to settle for a small piece of what could be a big electronics success.

So consumers and retailers may be in for a reprise of the confusing VHS-Betamax showdown of the early 1980's, with Toshiba replacing Matsushita as Sony's adversary. But Sony hopes to have a happier resolution this time. Sony lost the battle two decades ago when its highly regarded Betamax technology was defeated by VHS, a more widely accepted alternative.

Once again, the differences between the two technologies are not huge. And a growing chorus of critics, including some studio chiefs eager to sell new products as quickly as possible, call the Blu-ray format unnecessarily elaborate and expensive.

The first HD-DVD machines from Toshiba and the competing Blu-ray players from Sony, Samsung and the other Blu-ray companies will all play movies with crisper pictures, enhanced sound and a bevy of interactive features like pictures within pictures and links to the Internet. The machines will also play older DVD's.

Technophiles got a preview of the HD-DVD technology on Wednesday at an electronics store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. As Jessica Simpson and Johnny Knoxville cavorted in the movie "The Dukes of Hazzard," prospective buyers were able to see the difference between a plain old DVD and the high-definition kind. But the main feature was the price. Toshiba will sell two players starting in March; one will cost just $499, half the price of the cheapest Blu-ray machines, the first of which will hit the stores this spring. Samsung's first machine will cost $1,000, while Pioneer's Blu-ray player will run $1,800.

Toshiba executives have said that because more high-definition movies will be distributed over the Internet in coming years, they have essentially upgraded existing DVD technology to keep prices down. Blu-ray discs, however, include an architecture that Sir Howard Stringer, Sony's chairman, calls "revolutionary, not evolutionary."

The Blu-ray camp is trying to create a brand-new technology that will accommodate features that are still to be created. In preparation for that future, Blu-ray discs will store 25 gigabytes of data, compared with the 15 gigabytes on comparable Toshiba discs and 4.7 gigabytes on today's DVD's.

The first batch of high-definition DVD's from the studios' vaults will highlight rich graphics, vivid scenery and fast-moving action. The films include "Rambo," science fiction thrillers like "The Matrix" and "Dune" and animated features like "Ice Age." The DVD's are generally expected to cost $19 to $25.

But movies are only one front in the format war. In throwing its weight behind Toshiba, Microsoft has expanded the fight into the computer and game industries. Later this year, Microsoft will start selling an external drive for its Xbox game that will play HD-DVD discs, countering Sony's effort to turn PlayStation into a high-definition DVD player by adding Blu-ray technology. Microsoft and its ally Intel have also convinced Hewlett-Packard to consider making HD-DVD drives for computers. This would give Toshiba an answer to Dell, which remains committed to the Blu-ray format.

"The pendulum is swinging back to the HD-DVD camp," said John Freeman, who runs a technology research firm, Strategic Marketing Decisions, which last year declared Blu-ray the front-runner. "It will be interesting to see if the Blu-ray group can recover. It's only a matter of time before people start backing out of the Blu-ray camp."

Still, even with Microsoft on board, Toshiba may have only closed the gap, not overtaken the Blu-ray group. With Samsung, Panasonic and others siding with Sony, consumers will see more Blu-ray machines in the stores. And Blu-ray has more studios in its camp, which means more choice in movies. Every major studio except Universal plans to release Blu-ray DVD's, while Toshiba has commitments from only Universal, Warner Brothers and Paramount.

But one thing is clear: given Microsoft's growing power and scope in the entertainment realm thanks to its Xbox machines, its media player software and forays into Internet television its support of HD-DVD has deepened, and has probably prolonged, the format battle. That means consumers must figure out each format's advantages and risk being stuck with obsolete machines if one camp backs down.

This is giving retailers fits, not only because they have to carry twice as many machines and discs, but also because they have to train their employees to explain the differences between the standards.

"Both sides are digging in their heels and stupidity has prevailed," said Joe McGuire, the chief executive of Tweeter, a high-end electronics chain. Mr. McGuire called the failure of the two camps to agree on a single format "criminal" and said he would have a hard time advising consumers. "The answer to which is better is: 'We don't know,' " he said. "I'm tempted not to sell anyone these machines."

But sell they will, because retailers and studios need something new to throw at consumers now that DVD players are in 82 percent of American homes. Sales of DVD players are "pretty dead," said John LaRegina, a senior buyer at P.C. Richards, which has 49 stores in the New York area.

But Mr. LaRegina said format battles confused consumers and gave them an excuse not to buy. The uncertainty over who may win also forces film studios and electronics companies to hedge their bets.

Warner Brothers and Paramount, which were originally committed only to HD-DVD, decided last fall to make movies in both formats.

"It was very, very clear that Sony was not going to back down from Blu-ray, and they are basically betting their company on it," said Kevin Tsujihara, the president of Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group. But, he added, Toshiba has mounted "something of a comeback" by winning endorsements from Microsoft and Intel.

Some Blu-ray companies are also waiting to see how the market develops before jumping in with machines of their own. If the PlayStation 3 is priced below Toshiba's $500 player, it could double as the poor man's Blu-Ray player and undercut Sony's partners. (It will also cost Sony dearly; Merrill Lynch issued a report on Feb. 17 estimating that the first PlayStation 3 players would cost about $900 to produce. If so, Sony could end up with substantial losses on those machines if they are priced around $299, as analysts expect, to compete with the Xbox 360, which has been out since November.)

"It's too early to move into this market," said Katsuhiko Machida, the president of Sharp, a Blu-ray company that has not released details for its players in the United States. "Blu-Ray won't be a big business until probably 2008," he said, so "we can watch and see what happens."

Those doubts are a far cry from Blu-ray's bravado last summer and fall, when it won endorsements from Fox, Lions Gate, Warner Brothers and Paramount. Those agreements, coupled with the presumed sway of the PlayStation 3, led industry analysts at Forrester and elsewhere to predict that Blu-ray would ultimately win the format war.

But two unexpected and little-noticed decisions by the Blu-ray group last spring managed to alienate Microsoft and ultimately revive Toshiba's sagging fortunes.

First, Sony and the Blu-ray group adopted a Java program for interactive features. Microsoft favored a rival called iHD because, among other things, it would work better with its new Vista operating system. The Blu-ray group's board also approved an encryption technology called BD+, which Mr. Majidimehr, Microsoft's vice president for Windows digital media, deemed superfluous.

THESE decisions led Mr. Majidimehr to take a deeper look at the Blu-ray format and whether it would be more expensive to produce, as Toshiba had long contended. Mr. Majidimehr and his deputy, Jordi Ribas, spent the next few months on the phones and flying to Asia to meet with Sony, Panasonic and the other Blu-ray companies.

"We asked them if they are serious, and they told us they were," Mr. Majidimehr said, referring to the added software. Microsoft also received more data that showed that the Blu-ray group was not meeting its targets for producing discs and optical drives. "We were getting a lot of data saying the HD-DVD format was a walk in the park and Blu-ray was having trouble developing theirs," Mr. Majidimehr said.

Microsoft's announcement last September raised alarm bells at Hewlett-Packard, which was coming to similar conclusions. Hewlett-Packard worried that the software included in the Blu-ray format would cost so much in royalties that H-P would be unable to add affordable DVD drives to its computers.

Blu-ray drives cost up to 75 percent more than HD-DVD drives, according to Maureen Weber, the general manager of the personal storage group at Hewlett-Packard and a former spokeswoman for the Blu-ray coalition. "There's not a lot of elbow room," she said of the thin profit margins on computers. "The economics of HD-DVD make a lot more sense for us. I'm starting to wonder about the manufacturing ability of Blu-ray."

A Blu-ray spokesman, Andy Parsons, says his group's royalties, which have not yet been set, will be far lower than critics expect. He also disputed the idea that Toshiba had any advantage because Microsoft or Hewlett-Packard might promote the use of HD-DVD in computers.

"DVD's are about movies and people watch them in their living rooms," he said. "How many people actually use their computer drives to sit and watch movies?"

He added that the price of Blu-ray machines and discs was bound to fall as volume rose. Besides, he said, Toshiba is missing the point by selling cheaper machines, because the first people who buy new technologies typically care less about cost and more about the technology.

There are other industry analysts who contend that Microsoft is simply propping up Toshiba to further its own aims, like countering the PlayStation and combating the spread of Sun's Java software. Nonetheless, Toshiba is happy for the backing, given that the format was written off for dead just a few months ago.

"There's no doubt that everyone has various agendas," said Mark Knox, an adviser to the Toshiba promotion group. "But whatever their agenda, Microsoft's support has been a huge boon to HD-DVD."

For Sony, a fortified rival spells trouble. Not only does it make it harder for Blu-ray to catch on, but it raises questions about Sony's approach of trying to create new formats when consumers turn out to be content with something less ambitious.

That is the lesson Sony learned the hard way in the 1980's with Betamax, and more recently when Apple outdid the Walkman with the iPod. Now it is Toshiba's and Microsoft's turn to challenge Sony's strategy.

Martin Fackler contributed reporting for this article.

Re:TFA in full to save you registering (2, Funny)

Poeir (637508) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804314)

I'm not reading all that.

Why is Microsoft supporting hd-dvd? (3, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803904)

Didn't the MPAA wanted HD-dvd because it uses more advanced compression codecs which in return would make it harder to pirate over the superior blue-ray?

I wonder if MS is backing hd-dvd to please the MPAA so they maybe more willing to use MS Media Player store rather than Itunes when Vista comes out?

Re:Why is Microsoft supporting hd-dvd? (2, Informative)

Traiklin (901982) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803946)

that was the original plan, but as time has gone on both formats are basically identical (same compression, same DRM scheme) the only differences is one isn't limited on space yet (blu-ray) while the other is (hd-dvd)

Re:Why is Microsoft supporting hd-dvd? (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803969)

I'm not sure how advanced codecs make it more difficult to pirate. The tools to deal with H.264 and VC-9 are built-into Windows/Mac.

Also, I don't think the MPAA itself really has a position, most (but not all) of the studios seem to be supporting Blu-Ray.

Re:Why is Microsoft supporting hd-dvd? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803989)

Because its more difficult to rip in another format that is drm free like divx and then upload it on the net.

The MPAA has been on record on deciding HD-DVD because it would be harder to pirate with more difficult compression and more powerful drm over blueray.

Re:Why is Microsoft supporting hd-dvd? (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804024)

Yes, these disks pretty much make DivX obsolete, but fortunately there's other codecs.

My understanding is that Blu-Ray is more DRM-heavy, with both AACS (shared with HDDVD) and other super-hardcore layer called BD+. The irony is that with much better DRM than DVD, these new disks *might* allow some limited home copying, legally.

Re:Why is Microsoft supporting hd-dvd? (1)

dc29A (636871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804085)

Why is Microsoft supporting hd-dvd?

I am willing to beleive one of Gate's prediction: Disc based content distribution is dying. I think that in the not so distant future we'll see a lot of content producers distribute content without discs. Microsoft of course wants in on this deal so they are hoping that the Blue Ray vs HD DVD format war will make consumers not to adapt either and instead opt for digital downloads. Typical divide and conquer strategy. It might hurt PS3 sales as well that could provide a bonus for MS.

Microsoft controls the desktop, the next logical step is to control the living room, and only way it can achieve that if it can distribute content as well.

Re:Why is Microsoft supporting hd-dvd? (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804163)

Disc-based content distribution almost certainly won't die in the next... three years. Network download speeds are way too low, especially if one considers the average connection speed of all consumers, eg. red states too (eg. the content market isn't going to universally ditch physical media if 25% of the market is unable to use anything but physical media).

In the bandwidth/datacasting game, it's the DSL, cable, (and possibly satellite TV) companies who control everything right now. If/when bandwidth becomes universally cheaper and available, then Microsoft might have a chance at controlling that market, but you can bet the existing last-mile companies will do everything they can to try to control the market before then.

Re:Why is Microsoft supporting hd-dvd? (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804212)

From MS's perspective, it's probably easier to work with the US "last mile" companies than japanese consumer electronics folks.

SBC/AT&T is already talking about a special DSL service that will provide 10mbps for SBC Video-On-Demand content, but remain at 1.5mbps for usual Internet stuff. If they go ahead with this plan, they'll need someone to sell them the software, and MS is an obvious choice for that.

Re:Why is Microsoft supporting hd-dvd? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804280)

My ISP now offers 10Mb/s connections. This year, they will be moving everyone to 10Mb/s and charging based on transfer caps instead of connection speed. This is more than ample to deliver DVD-quality H.264. Since I rarely watch a film more than once, I would much prefer DVD-quality on-demand to HD after a day or two's wait while a disk is delivered.

Re:Why is Microsoft supporting hd-dvd? (1)

Utopia (149375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804325)

Microsoft is supporting HDDVD because HDDVD allows for managed copies. Bluray does not support managed copy.

Re:Why is Microsoft supporting hd-dvd? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804345)

Exactly - Gates said a couple months back that if managed copy were to appear in the Blueray format, Microsoft would throw its weight behind both of them. Until Blueray supports some standard for making digital copies, Microsoft won't touch it.

too much concentration of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803905)

toshiba + westinghouse + microsoft == ?

using their collapsing currency, which is used to prop up the U.S. trade deficit (and currency), toshiba is in the process of buying westinghouse ... and westinghouse is the only U.S. manufacturer of nuclear powerplants using high temperature Helium processes. Now Bill Gates joins up with toshiba?

Re:too much concentration of power (2, Funny)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803984)

We've always supspected that Bill Gates was building a doomsday weapon, now we know how. Thanks for uncovering his nefarious plots.

Re:too much concentration of power (2, Insightful)

ImpactedColon (956434) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804068)

"We've always supspected that Bill Gates was building a doomsday weapon, now we know how. Thanks for uncovering his nefarious plots." I think the entire notion of demonizing Bill Gates as the only person in the computer world who's after money and dominance is old and broken. Petulantly clinging to this notion requires that you close your eyes to the equally stubborn behavior of just about every other major company, including Apple (people will instantly be offended when I say this) and Sony (which some will automatically hate, and to be honest, since the rootkit, I have a hard time maintaining my neutrality toward them). I have breaking news to the small minded: Everyone wants to make as much money as they can and are willing to sell their souls to do it *cough* Google *cough*. Honestly, how much are souls worth when a fifth condo is so much more willing to impress the babes?

Competition (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803930)

Is Microsoft doing everything they can to crush competitors [msversus.org] ? That's certainly nothing new.

Hitachi Holographic Disk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803939)

I think Blu-ray and HD-DVD are losing tech. Why go that way when you can still use red lasers in Holographic Disk technologies.

Hitachi Holographic Disk [inphase-technologies.com]

Re:Hitachi Holographic Disk (2, Informative)

NekoXP (67564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803983)

Because blue lasers and discs are consumer ready NOW.

Holographic discs are still 3 or 4 years away (like we have the same discussion about HD-DVD and Blu-Ray 2 years ago..)

The problem with the technology is we need some kind of HD movie format *NOW* because HDTV is becoming super-popular *NOW*. It's not good for the status quo when you will hardly be able to buy a non-HDTV (-ready) set in the next couple of years, but still only be "working on" the HD rental/movie format because "holographic tech is much cooler".

Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD? HD-DVD will win it out just because it's cheaper. But this won't phase Sony one bit; at least it means PS3 games will be expensive to pirate.

Re:Hitachi Holographic Disk (1)

no_such_user (196771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804199)

Consumer adoption of high-def DVD equipment is going to be nowhere near the level of "legacy" DVD adoption, simply because the vast majority of consumers don't have HD displays and don't particularly care about them. So HDDVD and/or Blu-Ray won't have time to be fully adopted (outside of data storage) before it'll be time for the next technology (holographics, etc.)

Replace MPEG-2 with H.264 and you can use existing (9GB) DVD technology *NOW* with minimal expense. The problem (for THEM, not us!) then becomes DRM. And let's face it, it'll be circumvented somehow, right? So just use CSS and hide behind the DMCA enough to prohibit consumer-level DVD duplicators, yet let anyone with a computer and a little technical ability do as they please. Thanks.

Re:Hitachi Holographic Disk (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804320)

And let's face it, it'll be circumvented somehow, right?

You know this. I know this. Doesn't look like the MPAA does though.

Nothing New (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803945)

There is always some sort of format wars.. All I can suggest is to those that have spent may years building up your DVD collection. Make sure that you go buy a couple of new DVD players. Leave them in their boxces u ntill you need to replace the one you have, and wont be able to. Look at what happened with records, and cds, video-tape, and DVDS. The best thing is to ride out the wars, until they settle. And you wont be modernise your library.

Re:Nothing New (1)

Uber Banker (655221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804112)

Look at what happened with records, and cds, video-tape, and DVDS.

I can play CDs on my DVD player (which is region free). I can also play my VCDs on it. I can buy a cassette deck for pennies, record deck too. Personally, I always found DVD way overrated, VHS offered better quality r.e. image bleeding and response (until the tapes stretched). I bought my DVD player for $20.

Why Blu-Ray is in Trouble (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803957)

"DVD's are about movies and people watch them in their living rooms," he said. "How many people actually use their computer drives to sit and watch movies?"

Big yawn w/o smaller disks (5, Insightful)

transami (202700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803963)

Where are the 3.5" optical disks? The last time sony was successful was way back when they introduced 3.5" floppies. Since then they've had one flop after another. You'd think people would actually learn from experience. 3.5" disks would put some physical incentive behind a format. As it is I suspect most people, like myself, are yawning over these new formats. Am I supposed to be excited about having to buy a $2000 tv and a $500 hd/bd player for a few extra pixels of movies I already have? Please. Adoption rates are going to be dismal.

Re:Big yawn w/o smaller disks (1)

gabebear (251933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804089)

Compact Discs (a.k.a. CDs) are a Sony format... and Sony was also involved in the DVD standard compromise.

Re:Big yawn w/o smaller disks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804131)

That AND sony also tried to push MD (minidisk) which has/had a small form factor.

Big companies (Sony, Microsoft, etc) all use the same technique: Don't pick one, just bet on _all_ technologies. That way, you always have a winner.

Re:Big yawn w/o smaller disks (3, Interesting)

transami (202700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804155)

Well, sort of. Many companies were involved in that. Looks like Philps was the primary driver for consumer products, then Sony came in.

1978 Philips releases the video disc player
Sony sells the PCM-1600 and PCM-1 (digital audio processors)
"Digital Audio Disc Convention" Held in Tokyo, Japan with 35 different manufacturers.
Philips proposes that a worldwide standard be set.
Polygram (division of Philips) determined that polycarbonate would be the best material for the CD.
Decision made for data on a CD to start on the inside and spiral towards the outer edge.
Disc diameter originally set at 115mm.
Type of laser selected for CD Players.

1979 Prototype CD System demonstrated in Europe and Japan.
Sony agrees to join in collaboration.
Sony & Philips compromise on the standard sampling rate of a CD -- 44.1 kHz (44,100 samples per second)
Philips accepts Sony's proposal for 16-bit audio.
Reed-Solomon code adopted after Sony's suggestion.
Maximum playing time decided to be slighty more that 74 minutes.
Disc diameter changed to 120mm to allow for 74 minutes of 16-bit stereo sound with a sample rate of 44.1 kHz

Interestingly the first time I ever saw a CD was on Star Trek (Original) and that was a repeat aired in the early 70s.

Big yawn with smaller disks, too. (2, Interesting)

abb3w (696381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804166)

Where are the 3.5" optical disks?

On PSP [wikipedia.org] (available at Best Buy [bestbuysux.org] ). I've also saw 80mm DVD versions of a few movies on sale at Sam's Club around Xmas; I haven't looked since, so I don't know whether it was just a trial balloon, or whether they're available anywhere else.

Re:Big yawn w/o smaller disks (1)

Susceptor (559115) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804222)

Agreed. when DVD's were introduced there was a big advantage to switching: 1) no rewind 2) much higher resolution on older TVs 3) no wear and tear 4) no tinkering with broken tape that went off its hinges 5) all the extras that USED to be included in DVDs. But today, what they are offering is simply a marginal increase in resolution, and one that is only available if you spend a couple-thousand dollars on a new HDTV. That hardly seems like a bargain, especially when you consider that all the would be early adopters (like me) are heavily invested in the current generation of disks. I bought one of the very first DVD players on the market, and my DVD collection is probably somewhere in the vacinity of 900 disks, there is not way that i am about to switch to a new, more expensive format and spend thousands of dollars all over again for the SAME movies just to get a few more pixels out of the newer format.

Re:Big yawn w/o smaller disks (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804271)

Where are the 3.5" optical disks?

What, like 8cm DVDs? They're in the same aisle as writeable CDs and DVDs.

Re:Big yawn w/o smaller disks (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804344)

You can get very nice HDTVs for $1000 now, and the price is still dropping. The prices for HD disc players aren't expected to remain at $500. Large SD TVs and DVD players started at much higher prices. It's not just about a few extra pixels, it is quite a leap in clarity, about 6x as many pixels, it is the difference between a VGA monitor and Dell's 20" monitor.

Regarding the disc size, I think your rant really wasn't well-considered. The 8cm format (small discs) basically rips out about 75% of the capacity compared to the standard 12cm discs. So, insted of a 30GB dual layer HDDVD, are you willing to settle for a 7.5GB dual layer HDDVD? That is less capacity than a 12cm double layer DVD It is also about backward compatibility, the market generally doesn't accept new formats unless it is also backward compatible with what they already have.

Microsoft's support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803974)

It's all about cost of production. HD-DVD does the *same* thing with only a minor modification to the dvd fabrication plants. Blu-Ray needs to have plants built from scratch. Indeed Blu-Ray has more capacity, enabling massive amounts of data from inception. Think of HD-DVD as a work in progress. As long as the specs are already written for future HD-DVD formats from the first players, HD-DVD will eventually reach the American consumer as the default choice.

Re:Microsoft's support (1)

gabebear (251933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804132)

"It's all about cost of production. HD-DVD does the *same* thing with only a minor modification to the dvd fabrication plants."

One big problem with that argument is no company wants to convert a DVD plant to an HD-DVD plant. DVD production is going to increase into the forseable future and retrofitted plants are (probably) not going to be as effcient as a new HD-DVD/Blu-Ray plants. It's not like there are all these useless DVD plants that wouldn't be used for anything else, new DVD plants are still being "built from scratch".

Re:Microsoft's support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804290)

"DVD production is going to increase into the forseable"

That's a waste of resources.

Alright, I have to ask... (4, Insightful)

DerGeist (956018) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803975)

Who cares? These new technologies bring better resolution/better sound/whatever. So what? I mean, unless you can afford a 90 inch plasma screen ultra-resolution television set that costs as much as your car, what's the big deal? Watching television won't be at the HD-DVD or Blu-ray quality (yet, anyway) so why would I pay so much extra to watch movies in a better graphical format?

I think this is why Nintendo is doing so well, they're focusing on new ways to involve the player (in the TV case, the viewer) and new methods of interaction as opposed to the rest of the market, which is saying "BETTER GRAPHICS!" at the top of their lungs, hoping consumers will buy it. I don't care if in Gran Turismo 9 I can see the leather pattern of my car seat or I have reflective glass in my dashboard. Or if I can see droplets of blood when I shoot someone in an FPS. FPS games have lately been linear and monotonous. Run into a room, shoot someone, run into another room, shoot some more people...repeat for 8 hours, finish.

My point is, the entertainment industry is just peddling more crap hoping they can manufacture a need for it when in reality things have pretty much capped as far as necessary graphical quality (IMHO).

Oh, and when it doesn't sell because it's hopelessly crippled by DRM and provides no new content or value, they will just blame "those damned pirates." If it does sell, they'll just say "see, DRM makes those pirates helpless! We need more DRM!"

Bastards.

Re:Alright, I have to ask... (1)

Troed (102527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804079)

I don't know where you live, but flat screen TVs and projectors very much capable of displaying the difference between TV/DVD and HDTV are both commonplace and cheap.

The only reason to buy an Xbox 360 instead of an Xbox is to play games in 720p instead of 480p. The difference justifies it.

The same can be said for Blu-ray vs DVD.

Then, *I* have to ask... (1)

JayBlalock (635935) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804333)

What in the world is your definition of "cheap"? I see a few small ones on Best Buy for $500-$600. I assure you, sir, for quite a large percentage of the public, that ain't "cheap." And if you think it is, you're living in a fantasy world. (right alongside the Sony and Toshiba execs who think their new technologies are going to sell as well as DVD did)

Re:Alright, I have to ask... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804267)

So is it safe to say that you have never watched anything in high def?

Re:Alright, I have to ask... (0, Flamebait)

Susceptor (559115) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804326)

Nintendo doing well??? Um...if you are taling about their consoles, then you may be living on another planet. The gamcube is dead in the water, and their next console (revolution) is probably going to be the last Nintendo console. Nintendo has lost market share with every singleconsole it's made since the SNES, and gamecube is just the latest disapointment. By concentrating on kids Nintendo sunk it's own ship, and now it cant compete at all since it's having to deal with ginats like Sony and Microsoft. My prediction is Nintendo will be dead just like Sega within the next generation of consoles. but their portables will probably live on, at least until SONY makes PSP more competitive.

Hooray for format wars (4, Interesting)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803997)

One analyst on NPR said that a format war ala Beta vs VHS, which causes confusion in the marketplace, can reduce the market by 90%. That is, 9 out of 10 would-be buyers stay away. So, bearing in mind that (1) both formats are copy protected, (2) to the point where the analog signal is being intentionally degraded, and that (3) a Playstation 3 is going to cost in excess of $800, thus giving the ~$250 Nintendo Revolution a huge advantage -- I can see definite positive outcomes of both formats imploding.

Re:Hooray for format wars (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804076)

Sony HAS to eat some part of that cost, consumers won't pay $800-900 for a console (which is only fair, since Sony is the one making the blunder). Also, most people who have an HD set right now are somewhat early adopters (eg. something like 6% of deployed TVs are HD now) and more likely to buy players no matter what, and hopefully within a year or two, many players will support both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. I think the only positive outcome is for DVD-Peter or DVD-Olaf to break the new encyrption. I know I won't be able to stand the fast-forward locking and various other "features" even on non-pirated discs for very long.

Re:Hooray for format wars (1)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804260)

Please don't say the ps3 "will" cost over $800. That figure was just some analyst's prediction to sell some advertisements.

Re:Hooray for format wars (1)

JudicatorX (455442) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804331)

Don't forget about the $500 of controller modules you'll need to buy in order to play more than one game with the Revolution....

Your post is so GAY that it has AIDS. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803999)

I have henceforth wasted a karma point.

In other news... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804023)

Linux is STILL for fags.

Dell (2, Interesting)

wanorris (473323) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804036)

Microsoft and its ally Intel have also convinced Hewlett-Packard to consider making HD-DVD drives for computers. This would give Toshiba an answer to Dell, which remains committed to the Blu-ray format.

If Vista doesn't ship with support for Blu-Ray, how is Dell going to sell these to people?

And when did Dell stop following Intel and Microsoft on technology choices?

Re:Dell (1)

thammoud (193905) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804084)

They are called Vendor Supplied device drivers.

Re:Dell (1)

InsaneGeek (175763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804096)

The support is there, it's just that the technology licensing for the bits and pieces will have to be additional. HD DVD licenses will be included in the OS so OEM's prviding a bundled solution won't have to pay extra per system (already in the OS); while for blu-ray they are saying that if you want to bundle blu-ray with a system the OEM will have to pay for the licensing of blu-ray (but it will still be supported in the OS).

http://www.eet.com/news/latest/showArticle.jhtml?a rticleID=175004773 [eet.com]

Re:Dell (3, Informative)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804102)

If Vista doesn't ship with support for Blu-Ray, how is Dell going to sell these to people?

Windows XP doesn't even support DVD playback out of the box, yet people seem to get along just fine with manufacturer-supplied DVD codecs.

YAWN (1)

wirehead_rick (308391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804047)

HD-DVD + DRM == stillborn

Killer app... err, killer hardware? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804050)

Blu-Ray has a distinct advantage that Betamax didn't: it's going to be winging its way into homes using the PS3 as a trojan horse. If the PS3 is a big success (mind you, that's up in the air at the moment) then Blu-Ray will quite likely win the format war hands down.

Re:Killer app... err, killer hardware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804086)

Just because some consumers have Blu-Ray players doesn't mean they will purchase Blu-Ray discs if their televisions do not support a higher resolution and the Blu-Ray discs are more expensive. Many players support DVD-RAM discs, yet that format has not taken off at all.

Re:Killer app... err, killer hardware? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804317)

The question isn't how many Blu-Ray disks are going to sell, it's whether it's going to be more of a success than HD-DVD. Obviously if consumers give up on HDTV disks completely they're both going to flop.

Its the content stupid (1)

thammoud (193905) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804070)

Every major studio except Universal plans to release Blu-ray DVD's, while Toshiba has commitments from only Universal, Warner Brothers and Paramount.


Blue Ray has a lot more content than HD-DVD. Now that Apple is basically in bed with Disney, both staunch allies of Blue Ray, the said campl will really have to fuck up for HD-DVD to win. Microsoft and HP do not control content. Heck, MS wants to optionaly add an HD-DVD to XBox-360. Not a strong endorsement.

Blu-Ray/HD-DVD DRM vs DVD DRM (1)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804095)

Why does it seem that most Slashdotters want BluRay/HD-DVD to fail because of its DRM? Given that DVD has DRM as well, I'd rather have a format which is capable of the highest quality video.

Re:Blu-Ray/HD-DVD DRM vs DVD DRM (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804121)

Simple. The DRM on BluRay and HD-DVD is worse than the DRM on DVD.

I'm voting HD-DVD ... (5, Insightful)

packetmill (955023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804111)

because I find it hard to put money in something with the word "blu" in it.

I mean, how hard is it to add the e at the end, geniuses. A 2 year old could come up with a better marketing plan.

Just..never mind.

Re:I'm voting HD-DVD ... (1)

Randall311 (866824) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804184)

They named it Blu-ray without the e at the end because you can't copyright a color. If they called it Blue-ray then they would have a hard time fighting legal battles of any old company naming their products "Blue-ray" compatible without the approval of the actual Blu-ray forum.

Flase battles for slow tech news years. (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804145)

This whole 'battle' between the formats is rediculous. Both formats have evolved to the point where players well end up supporting both, and some movies will be on BluRay while others will be on HD-DVD. Neither are going to 'fail', because the discs for both formats will ship with a DVD compatable layer on them, and will play at standard resolution in normal DVD players.

The 'battle' was over months ago, and now there is all sorts of mis-speculation in order to give these stupid analysts and reporters something to print. Notice all the stories these days aren't " makes the following technology mistake" anymore, and have all become "Will succeed at ?" or "Look at how this other format failed in the past" or "Analysts all disagree how much these things cost to make. Here's a list of all the most expensive predictions."

There is no story here.

In Sony's Stumble, the Ghost of Betamax (2, Insightful)

krskrs (886964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804194)

(1) Remember that Betamax failed, despite slightly better technology, because Sony kept it proprietary. To play or record Betamax tapes, until the very end you had to buy Sony hardware. That let the open VHS market develop commodity recorders and players that enormously outnumbered Sony and undercut it on price.

The market has room for many levels, from high-end to junk. Sony limited itself to good-to-excellent hardware, while most buyers wanted mid-to-low end. Sony got buried. True, it was mostly in manure, but the important thing is that it got buried.

If Blu-ray is kept proprietary, it's doomed, for exactly the same reasons.

(2) Also, the market will quickly want recordable HD. Blu-ray-R will need a major technology change. I don't know about HD-DVD-R, but it will at least have the head start that it can be read (and perhaps written) by red lasers and development of existing technology.

(3) IMHO, the entire market will be stillborn if copy protection is part of it. Regardless of what's legal, people buy recorders and blank disks to make copies, for the buyer at other locations, and for friends and Napster-type sharing. Comparatively few people will buy a disk simply to have a pre-recorded movie or game, without the ability to copy it. (Not to mention that any copy prevention system is a sitting target that can be quickly broken.)

Pre-recorded disks can't be written to. Therefore, any pre-recorded disk will have to install copy prevention software on the user's computer -- at least a counter, to permit the backup copy, and a copy-prevention system to prevent further copies. We've seen what happened when Sony tried to do this with its rootkit. (4) Finally, HDTV sets are still uncommon and expensive. Cable broadcasters are sending out HDTV, but until home sets have good distribution, there's no market for either Blu-ray or HD-DVD players or recorders. HDTV seems to be ready for a surge, so I think we can look for an increasing demand for HD disks. We live in interesting times.

Wars over a piece of plastic (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804207)

The format wars are ridiculous. We're still dealing with DVD+/-R and spotty compatibility with consumer devices and that will never be fixed. We DON'T want to see another pair of formats duke it out like children, never admitting defeat. We will end up with devices that play both BluRay and HD-DVD, and do a half-assed job at both like they do today with regular DVD. I don't know whose side to pick, but someone has to emerge as the victor and be standardized. It's just a frickin' plastic disc with numbers on it for christsake.

Re:Wars over a piece of plastic (1)

josepuerto (951665) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804228)

My first VCR was a standing one and you put the tape in like a toy cassette player.

I agree (1)

ribblem (886342) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804223)

I agree with you. I don't care who wins now, but I would like to point out that without competition between these two standards neither one would have been as good as it is now. While most people are complaining that we have two standards for a year or two until one wins, I'm happy to live with that since it gave us a better cheaper product. Competition is good.

Blu-ray doa? (2, Insightful)

PrvtBurrito (557287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804256)

So far, there is a lot of evidence that Blu-ray is DOA. HD-DVD is faster to market. HD-DVD players are likely to be more than $500 less expensive than Blu-ray. HD-DVD is cheaper to manufacture. HD-DVD will be backward compatible with DVD with little overhead. The blackhorse in all this is the PS3, but the PS3 looks like it is going to be a *huge* risk for Sony. The depressing part is that this is turning into a Microsoft vs. Sony fight. Choosing between those to companies doesn't sit well with me, given their track record on doing things good for the consumer.

BLU-RAY AND HD-DVD have denial of service issues (1)

fedrive (625338) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804282)

I dont like all the protection schemes that they are putting on BR and HD-DVD.

We need a storage technology that allows the consumer to download 1 copy legally to their storage of choice without industry interference.

New data storage beyond Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.

http://www.nanotech-now.com/news.cgi?story_id=1373 8 [nanotech-now.com]

Sony's REAL problem (4, Interesting)

unitron (5733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804298)

Sony used to be a hardware company.

Now Sony is a "content" company with a division that makes hardware.

A division that can't think first about how to make the hardware great but has to think about (and re-think, and think about it some more) "How can we make sure that this new piece of gear can never, ever, under any circumstances, be used to violate copyright in any conceivable way and any that aren't?".

While they were doing that instead of designing cool new hardware Apple came out with the MP3 version of the Walkman.

Because of that the Mini-Disc never became what it could have been.

Because of the content side worrying about copyright instead of cool hardware they screwed up a bunch of people's computers and convinced many of them and many others to avoid any future purchases of Sony hardware.

I suspect a hadware only company that worried about copyright about as much as the creators of Betamax did could have already had a DRM-free Blu-Ray product on the market by now.

Maybe they should call it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804332)

Gammamax.
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