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Troubling Times for Chinese DVD Standard

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the fight-for-your-right-to-play-media dept.

Movies 22

Turtlewind writes "China's second largest home electronics retailer Suning announced today that it will stop selling new EVD products. This blow for China's home-grown video disc standard comes just days after some of China's largest DVD player manufacturers flatly denied claims by EVD Industry Alliance secretary general Zhang Baoquan that all the alliance's members would stop producing DVD equipment by 2008. The EVD standard — which was discussed on Slashdot back in 2003 — uses different encoding technology to avoid the license fees on DVD equipment. Unfortunately for EVD's backers, which included the Chinese government, the new standard failed to take off in the face of China's large existing DVD market."

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22 comments

This story is a startling contrast to this one ... (4, Insightful)

bestinshow (985111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149012)

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2006/12/07/china_unve ils_54_evd_players/ [reghardware.co.uk]

The pitch now is that EVD will not be an alternative to DVD but its successor - essentially it's been repositioned as an alternative to HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Technology provided by London-based New Media Enterprises, which has been touting a format it calls VMD (Versatile Multi-layer Disc), to provided a storage capacity sufficient for HD content but read using standard red lasers rather than blue.

To get it there, some 20 CE vendors yesterday unveiled 54 EVD players, China's Xinhau state news agency reports. Among the suppliers were the Haier Group, one of the world's biggest white-goods makers, and TCL Group, which manufactures kit for France's Thomson, owner of the RCA brand.

Re:This story is a startling contrast to this one (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17155084)

The pitch now is that EVD will not be an alternative to DVD but its successor - essentially it's been repositioned as an alternative to HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

You shouldn't be surprised by any of this. China is like the good old USSR, giving the pro-China view on things, no matter how completely it conflicts with reality.

Look for some older articles on AVS (the video codec used on EVD). You'll find numerous claims that it's superior to H.264 in quality/bitrate, while decoding with a fraction of the CPU power...

When they got around to releasing samples, everyone got to see that AVS was actually more CPU intensive than h.264, and the quality was (AT BEST) somewhat lower than even MPEG-2.

I wouldn't be surprised if the mentioned VMD format doesn't come out for the next 5 years, stores just a bit more than dual-layer DVDs, and costs many times more than Blu-Ray/HD-DVD to manufacturer.

Is any one suprised? (3, Insightful)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149054)

You are attempting to replace an item that is heavily entrenched in consumers' mindshare and financial investment with something that offers no real benefit to the consumer? And we are suprised this failed, why?

Re:Is any one suprised? (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149080)

They are trying to comply with monopolistic "intellectual property" laws. If the US hadn't been pressuring them to start complying I doubt they would even be attempting this.

Re:Is any one suprised? (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149592)

I would not say they are trying to compeate with the laws, they are trying to compeate with DVDs/DVD players.

They are tryign to get AROUND the laws. I don't blame them for wanting to, having to pay the licensing fees is kinda a bummer (and that is the only reason they are doing it, money, not because it is "right"). But it was a no brainer that it would fail.

Re:Is any one suprised? (1)

PPGMD (679725) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149598)

This has little to do with IP laws they were simply looking for a way so they don't have to pay the $20 per a player fee to the DVD group to handle the royalties on the codecs.

Re:Is any one suprised? (2, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149740)

That's remarkable. A debate begun and settled in a single sentence. So it is all about IP.

Re:Is any one suprised? (1)

Doug-W (165055) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149758)

...

But if there were no Intellectual Property Laws regarding the codec, they wouldn't need to pay a licensing fee, they could just use it. Correct?

Why would they bother? (2, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151024)

This has little to do with IP laws they were simply looking for a way so they don't have to pay the $20 per a player fee to the DVD group to handle the royalties on the codecs.

This is China, right? Since when have they cared about things like royalties or others' intellectual property?

I suspect that if they wanted to make DVD players without paying the $20 fee, they'd just make DVD players, not pay the fee, and sell them within China.

I think this is more about producing a format within China that won't be adopted by the rest of the world, allowing the Chinese government more control over the media its people watch.

Re:Why would they bother? (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151342)

>This is China, right? Since when have they cared about things like royalties or others' intellectual property?

They care, now. There is WTO. And China's investments in R&D are about to yield lots of patentable ideas. Do you think they'll have scruples doing a 180?

If you ask me, I'd make it legal to ignore Chinese intellectual property for the same amount of time China ignored western one.

But it will never happen. China is just a tool for the elite that pumped investment money into it to get advantage of Chinese people, oppressed by their government. It's the same elite that strangles everybody else, with pathetic propaganda about free market and concrete action towards a region coded DRMed patented bleak future.

Re:Why would they bother? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17155312)

Since when have they cared about things like royalties or others' intellectual property?

Ever since they started exporting DVD players, and getting sued for unpaid fees.

Maybe a little surprised... (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149704)


You are attempting to replace an item that is heavily entrenched in consumers' mindshare and financial investment with something that offers no real benefit to the consumer?

That's obviously true everywhere else but China, but what's at least a little surprising is that it's true in China as well. The thing you have to remember is that China is a large enough market to sustain its own standard (ignoring the outside world of course). The interesting part is that the Chinese government can't really control the home video market inside China. China has to essentially bow out to market forces here. I'd say it's really more telling of how much China has become part of the world economy than anything else.

If it's just encoding... (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149996)

Why not create players that support both standards? For the first while they'll still need to pay the DVD licensing, but over time as dual-mode players take over the market, they could sell more discs as compatible EVD players emerge. Eventually, they could replace DVD enough that ditching the DVD-compatability wouldn't be quite as painful.

As for benefit to consumer, how about not having the cost of licensing passed along to them, not having region-locked discs, not having unskippable ads (see: Shrek 2 disc), etc

Re:If it's just encoding... (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150222)

True, there is a benefit to the consumer, lower costs as the licence fee would not have to be factored into their EVD (though it still would be in the DVD/EVD hybrid players). I doubt they would strip out the region locking (as that is required to get a licence to reproduce the movies I think), and the unskippable adds are also there by the manufacturer, not by the people askign for the fee.

However, getting people to buy hybrids is still not that easy. Most poeple in China probably HAVE a DVD player, and thus have no real need to get a new one (people are not just goign to go out and buy a new player that offers no immediate benefits). Also, any cost saved by not having to licence the DVD codecs is still in an EVD/DVD player, and I expec that they will still cost more then a standard DVD player would(that and we might see something like BluRay/HD-DVD where they refuse to licence a device that plays both formats).

In order to get consumers to upgrade you must either:
1) Provide a new device with segnificant advantages (lower priced is not an advantage as they already HAVE a comprable device)
2) Make current devices obsoleate (in this case stop selling DVDs, only sell EVDs), however to do that, it general requires a VERY large risk. (if some one finds away around the forced adaptations of EVD then the entire industry takes a HUGE hit).

Re:If it's just encoding... (1)

serbanp (139486) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150760)

Most poeple in China probably HAVE a DVD player, and ...

Ha-ha-ha, that was a good one! Dude, do you have any clue on how many Chinese can afford to buy a DVD player? And no, I'm not talkinkg about the 100M people living in cities and industialized areas...

Re:If it's just encoding... (2, Interesting)

Sivaram_Velauthapill (693619) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150618)

The poster above alludes to it but just to reiterate, a hybrid player will cost the same as a normal DVD player (since it has to have the same licensing costs of the normal DVD, not to mention potentially extra hardware and support for the combination). So what's the incentive for a consumer to buy the hybrid (at the same or potentially higher cost) when DVD players are more readily available (with even steeper cost decline curves)? Furthermore, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray are just around the corner so there will be even less incentive to go with an intermediate (ie. temporary) solution until those take off... China has to be given credit for how it is opening up its markets and (hopefully) liberalizing itself (on social/political issues). However, the country is still influenced too much by nationalists who want to have their own standard in everything. How many stories have we had on Slashdot on China's own specs on things ranging from mobile/wirless phones to CPUs (whatever happend to the Red Dragon or whatever it was called anyway), to you name it. It remains to be seen when this totalitarian mindset of having control over everything in the nation will come to an end...

Re:If it's just encoding... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17155268)

So what's the incentive for a consumer to buy the hybrid (at the same or potentially higher cost) when DVD players are more readily available (with even steeper cost decline curves)?

Because most DVD players people buy are from China. If the Chinese government mandates EVD, then instantly, most DVD players will be EVD players. They may be a couple dollars more than previous DVD-only players, but they'll still be the cheapest DVD players on the market.

It's more or less the same reason why every DVD player around has support for VCDs, and most support SVCDs as well.

Re:Is any one suprised? (1)

sckeener (137243) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151048)

You are attempting to replace an item that is heavily entrenched in consumers' mindshare and financial investment with something that offers no real benefit to the consumer? And we are surprised this failed, why?

exactly...offer up a free blu-ray version and it might have gained some traction.

China has enough numbers that if they wanted to direct the industry they could...however they are not thinking far enough ahead with this to set the standard.

Re:Is any one suprised? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17155158)

China has enough numbers that if they wanted to direct the industry they could...however they are not thinking far enough ahead with this to set the standard.

They have the numbers, but they absolutely don't have the technical know-how. All they can do right now is repurpose the technology comming out of other countries, such as CDs and MPEG-2 to make the SVCD standard, or DVDs for EVD. Everything they've done on their own has been much worse than the competition in every way.

Did it matter? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150932)

Is the DVDCA really collecting licensing fees from domestic Chinese manufacturers?

It's the content, stupid (1)

Retardican (1006101) | more than 7 years ago | (#17152528)

Here is an example of flag waving patriotism gone wrong. The idea sounds good--make a new license free standard for domestic manufacturers, but they never considered who'll publish in the new format. None of the American movie studios will publish without strict DRM and region control, and I doubt Chinese domestic publishers and pirates would care to embrace a new, uncertain format. And to have a dual-format player (DVD+EVD), the manufacturer has to pay the license anyway.

Too little, too late. (1)

WoTG (610710) | more than 7 years ago | (#17158690)

There were literally billions of DVD's and hundreds of millions of DVD players manufactured in China before EVD was ever born. Granted, most of those were exported, still the established base was WAY too large. Besides, no one really pays the royalties on DVD players, even here in North America. I was corrected by someone here on /. before, the royalties for every part of a DVD player* is around $25 USD. There are often DVD players retailing here for $25 USD. Do you think proper royalties are being paid?

Now, HDDVD and BlueRay are barely established... there may be a chance there.

* Philips gets a big chunk for the disc design (I think), but there are also royalties for MP3, Dolby, DivX, etc.
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