Wednesday, May 14, 2008

When good enough works right now

Note: This my delayed reaction to this article: Blu-Ray: The future has been delayed . I wrote this blogpost a long time ago but I just forgot to publish it.

First of all, we all have to congratulate Sony for their amazing strategy. Once HD-DVD has thrown in the towel, the PS3 has become the defacto Blu-Ray player. The PS3 is the the most logical choice for anybody if they want a Blu-Ray player. First: it's the cheapest Blu-Ray player around in the market. Second: The PS3 is the only player which can be updated and consumers will need that considering the standards to Blu-Ray has not been finalized.

By having Blu-Ray win the HD Wars, Sony has effectively instigated a quasi monopoly in the HD Movie market. Sony can boast that even a sale for a non-gamer consumer who buys a PS3 for movies...can also be qualified as a sale for the videogame industry since now that he has the PS3 that certain consumer has a greater propensity to purchase a PS3 game simply because the they already have the hardware.

Bravo Sony! Bravo!

After resigning, Ken Kutaragi seemed to be more relaxed. He even grew his hair!

Of course very few people will see it in this manner. Should the roles be reversed and it was Microsoft up there things would be a lot of different and the worlds 'ANTI TRUST' will be flung all over the Internet and the gaming communities. And yes I did look up the legal definition of that word before typing it in this post. But I'm not here to talk about the big bad wolf more commonly known by some people as Microsoft. I'm hear to discuss the premature victory of Blu-Ray.

As a recap, the article above states that the sales of the Blu-Ray stand-alone player (not the PS3) hasn't been doing well. If one is to consider the price of the stand alone Blu-Ray players compared to the PS3, that news should come as a no-brainer. But despite that much fan-dangled sales growth of the PS3 the growth of Blu-Ray hasn't sky rocketed as many analysts believe it would.

The problem lies more on the consumer more than the product itself.

The biggest market for home video is North America and if one will look at the current economic slump in the region, why would anyone want to buy a $20++ Blu-Ray movie when they can get the same thing for $10 or less? The default answer 'Internet' answer to this is the amazing difference between an HD movie (playing back on an HD TV) compared your standard DVD upscaled to fit the HD TV.

We own an HDTV which is being used mostly for gaming purposes. Every so often we will watch a DVD using our Samsung DVD player or the XBOX 360. While chances are the Blu-Ray movie will be sharper than the DVD upscaling feature...does that sharpness amount to the extra $10 I will need to shell out if I buy it on Blu-Ray?

That's the real dilemma of the next generation HD format.

Movie studios are hoping that people will rebuy their whole DVD collection just to watch old movies in HD. Well, I've got news for them, most people hardly watch a movie twice, me included. These days I go to the cinema and I feel sorry for my wallet after an hour or two of a horrendous movie whose trailer happened to be better than the actual movie itself. I pick my movie purchases with care rather than the desire to fill shelves and shelves of my home with movie cases as a d├ęcor. While there is a portion of the market that we can consider movie or video fanatics, they do not constitute majority of the market who would much rather spend that extra $10 to supplement their gas purchases credit card bills and just go on living.

And does the movie actually change its main content with Blu-Ray? Apart from the special features, which most of the time are not worth watching, the answer is NO. If you purchase Top Gun for Blu-Ray and DVD, the actor will still be Tom Cruise and the movie will still be about a maverick jet pilot. No change or whatsoever.

To top it all off, Blu-Ray doesn't have an answer to movie downloads and digital distribution. People can say all they want about the costs of having high speed internet or the hurdles that the telecommunication companies will face. The expansion of the Internet is inevitable. It is no longer a question of 'IF' but 'WHEN'. The advancement of the Internet IS a loftier and more profitable venture compared optical media. Why? Because the Internet isn't just about movies or data disks. If the Internet is a single entity where you can buy shares of stock, I'll put my money in that over Blu-Ray.

The future of majority media will rest in digital distribution. It's already being done, albeit illegally. While the part of the blame lies somewhere in the Internet, organizations such as the MPAA are addressing the issue incorrectly. Rather than filing lawsuits and issues 'cease and desist' orders, these guys should seriously consider legal means of digital distribution for their intellectual property. Other than I-Tunes, the business model for legal digital distribution of entertainment media is not clear-cut and there will be a lot of challenges ahead but no doubt it will play a major role in things to come. I'm not saying that physical media will disappear. All I am trying to say is that as technology grows and digital communication becomes a cheaper commodity, the Internet will become a viable marketplace which spans the global community without the need for middlemen from a default physical retail set-up.

Any sign of Blu-Ray from the future, doc? Oh by the's 2008, where's my flying car?

With the proliferation of digital distribution comes the whole idea for a centralized media server for the home. With storage companies offering Network Access Storage (NAS) devices at a price that the consumer may afford, physical media is looking more and more like unnecessary clutter in the household...specially if the said media happens to be a bad movie or horrible audio disk that you had the misfortune of buying and can't get rid off.

It is because of this one, that I consider Blu-Ray as transitional technology. Like the way the Laser Disk was in the early 90s. New and better technologies will emerge in the near future. This is one of the reasons why I hesitate to support Blu-Ray (or HD-DVD for that matter). I don't want to be stuck with a lot of clutter once Blu-Ray is revealed to be NOT the future. And right now Blu-Ray marketing isn't really doing a good job convincing people that it is indeed the future.


  1. It depends on how large your screen is and its native resolution. At 52" 1080p I see quite a huge difference between upscaled DVD and Bluray and yes, it's worth the $10 extra.. people who own large HDTVs and expensive machines like PS3s and Xbox 360s are not the kind of people who get affected by downturns nor are they likely to care about $10. That's not even lunch at a decent restaurant nowadays with inflation being what it is.

    Then again, I think Bluray is stupid. I can download most HD material for free from Piratebay and one day digital distribution will be cheaper and more convenient.

    By the way the PS3 is not a good Bluray player, the dedicated players provide a better image, and it is noticeable. Most people who buy PS3 just for Bluray are not real home theater enthusiasts. They are the same kind of people who buy Yamaha speakers and think that's good enough for surround sound. Uhm, no it's not.

  2. Don't forget those people who have netflix subscriptions. It doesn't cost any more for us to get Blu-Ray as opposed to DVD. So I would say the $10 extra is a non-factor for me because I don't buy the movies anyway :)