Re: OT: Great commentary on the movie format war

On Nov 13, 4:29 pm, Doug Jacobs <djac...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
The alMIGHTY N <natle...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

On Nov 12, 7:31 pm, "SuperJo...@xxxxxxxxx" <SuperJo...@xxxxxxxxx>
I still think the format war isn't good for consumers. How can you
force someone to choose a format and lose half of the movies he wants
to see because he only has one format.
The fact of the matter is that if there were no format war, you'd be
paying through the roof for movies and the selection would be even
less. Without any competition driving the market, studios would have
had no incentive to release their best content until much later down
the line.

I don't buy this. The format war is nothing but trouble for the

Look at DVD. Yes, it was expensive at first, but quickly dropped in
price. Why? Because early adopters were buying it, and companies were
motiviated to open DVD to an ever wider market.

You cannot compare DVD to either of these formats. You've even
mentioned this in past discussions. DVD is apples to the HD formats'
oranges. Even forgetting that, how would you explain Laserdisc
remaining a niche with prices never approaching mass market levels?

Consumers adopted DVD because there really wasn't a viable
alternative. DVD was a huge improvement over VHS in every way. HD-DVD
and Blu-Ray provide only a visual upgrade, an upgrade that most people
can't see (either themselves or because they don't own an HDTV) or
don't care about.

Even if there was only one HD format right from the beginning, people
wouldn't have bought into it. There's no incentive for the average

With the HD formats, that's not happening. The demand isn't there which
is why prices are falling, but it's still a bad thing for consumers.

It's a bad thing for consumers who fall into the "entertainmentophile"
category. The average consumer doesn't give a rat's ass about this and
won't buy into the new technology until prices are way down, whether
that happens quickly (as it did with this format war) or slowly (as it
would have if there was never a war to begin with).

Seriously, the companies are trying to get consumers to decide which 50%
of their movies they DON'T want to watch in HD. That's just...INSANE!

A single HD format would have still seen the same aggressive pricing DVD
saw if only to help with HDTV sales.

Wrong. The pricing has always been about beating out the other guy.
Competition was 100% responsible for driving down prices so much so
quickly. Without that competition, the studios would not have had
incentives to push these formats so hard.

Ignoring that, there's still the outcome of the "war" to consider. I see
4 possibilities:

* HD-DVD wins
* Blu-Ray wins
* Hybrid players arrive
* Consumers leapfrog HD-DVD/Blu-Ray entirely

Hybrid players arrive to satisfy the geeks and the average consumer
may very well just skip this generation altogether. However, with
prices dropping to $99 for a player, we might just see some mass
market people buying in yet. Don't get too many hopes up, though...

The first two are self explanatory. This is basically what happened with
VHS/Betamax. VHS won, Betamax owners had to eventually buy a VHS deck if
they wanted to be able to watch later releases.

The 3rd one is what happend in the DVD-R/DVD+R war. Ugh, remember that?

That's yet another war that the average consumer didn't care about.
Joe Shmoe doesn't know anything about pluses and minuses. Joe Shmoe
wasn't even burning DVDs until well after the dust settled in that
little conflict.

Years later, even though combo "do everything" drives are commonplace,
every so often you'll find a device that won't work with one of the
formats. Even then, such combo drives will initially be somewhat
expensive due to the complexity of their design. Even as their prices
drop, the mechanical complexity will undoubtedly result in these drives
being less robust as compared to drives that would only contain a single

Right now, the vast majority of the video market isn't ready for either
video format. They haven't upgraded to HDTV yet, and chances are it'll be
5+ years before this changes. By that time, there may be some other
technology or solution out there that people choose instead of HD-DVD or
Blu-Ray. This could be downloadable content, or even an all new media
format that puts optical media to shame.

The HD formats are selling to a niche market and could very well
always be selling to that same niche market. The format war has been
great for early adopters because the faster price drops mean that we
are able to enjoy these movies, if just half of them, sooner. As soon
as those dual-format players hit reasonable price points, the whole
"only half of the movies" argument goes right out the window,
eliminating any legitimacy to a "this format war is bad for consumers"

#1 or #2 are what would be best for the consumers. There'd only be ONE
format to worry about, making devices easier and cheaper to manufacture.
You wouldn't have to worry about any sort of odd incompatibilities or
anything like that.

Blu-Ray was expensive to manufacture because of the new technology.
Its costs have nothing to do with HD-DVD.

Unfortunately, I think #3 is the most likely. This
means we'll see HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs for years and years to come.

This assumes that HD video even breaks into the mass-market, and there's
still no clear evidence this will happen. Many think that HD-DVD and
Blu-Ray will essentially end up as this generation's version of Laser
Disc, which was only popular with the higher-end market and never really
broke into the mass market which prefered VHS in terms of price, and the
fact you could record on them.

The big difference being the much lower prices due entirely to the
format war. Laserdisc were always expensive... I don't think they ever
hit $30 for a movie, at least not until the very end.

Sure, there are already Blu-Ray and HD-DVD
burners in the works to allow the recording of HD programming, but with
DVRs becoming more and more prevelent, it's going to be an uphill battle.
Then there's DVD... Despite HD-DVD and Blu-Ray being out for about a
year, they've barely managed to break the 5% mark. The rest is all DVD,
and that's something that's not likely to change for quite awhile.

I think the ability to record HD to disc would be very useful. I
remember back in the days of VHS when you could borrow a show from a
friend if you missed it. DVRs are useful, but they have their limits.
If you run out of space, you're screwed unless you go on a viewing
spree. My DVR has a great capacity but I'm still having to watch or
delete stuff frequently with maybe 20 hours or so of HD broadcasts
stored away.

While consumers would be getting content from all studios, the amount
of releases would be so much less that there would be less choice than
what consumers have from a single format right now.

I don't think so. There's still TONS of stuff that hasn't even been
released onto DVD. Look at how long it took Star Wars to come out on
DVD, not to mention Disney.

Star Wars was an exception to the rule. No studio could have decided
to put that out... it was all the decision of one man who was
notorious for being finicky about how he released his material.

Disney didn't jump on board because it wasn't sure about the
technology, which is a valid concern now as well. Once they did get on
board, they went apeshit with their stuff.

There's some obscure stuff that isn't on DVD yet, but pretty much
anything that 99% of the people want to watch can be found.

What we're seeing now with HD-DVD/Blu-Ray is identical to what we saw with
DVD - newer stuff is getting released, but older stuff - stuff folks
really want - is being held back.

What incentive is there for studios to release their best stuff on a
new, unproven format? The release of Star Wars in the first couple of
years of DVD's life wouldn't have guaranteed a flood of early
adopters. The average consumer still wouldn't have bought into the
format but the early adopter geeks would be thrilled. Big deal. The
release of Star Wars after DVD had pretty much become a standard was a
much smarter move... people had already bought into the technology so
there wouldn't be anything holding them back from a purchase.

Look at it this way... if Microsoft had released Halo 3 as a launch
title, would sales have been anywhere near that of what we saw a month
or so ago?

I guess it's a good thing too since the
studios are still learning how to use the new formats, and remaster stuff
in HD. Remember some of the early DVDs? Ugh. Same with some of the
early HD-DVD and Blu-Ray releases.

Well, with DVD... at least you still had the other conveniences even
if the visuals weren't anything mind-blowing. If a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD
fucks up the visuals, there's nothing left.