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Industry Pundits vs. Blu-Ray |

With the victory of Blu-Ray, I expected plenty of bitter tears to flow, but the complete meltdowns of otherwise sane technology pundits and analysts have exceeded my expectations.

Here is a handy translation table:

Crazy Pundits Translation
Physical Media is dead, everyone is about to instantly switch to Internet download services. Oh, except for plain DVDs which are easy and convenient. So which is it? Are consumers going to instantly drop physical media en masse, or are people content with physical media, or are the pundits bending over backwards to find some magical middle ground that rationalizes why consumers want everything except Blu-Ray which they have some weird and crazy emotional hatred of?
No one cares about HD. People can’t tell the difference between Blu-Ray and regular DVDs. People are spending thousands of dollars extra to get these fancy HD displays, but they can’t tell the difference? It’s also odd, that I can find posts from the exact same authors a few months ago raving about HD-DVD quality. Their eyes and brains are selectively noticing HD quality when it favors their technology preferences.
People care about HD, but only 720p, not 1080p, and they only want 5.1 audio, not extra-high fidelity lossless audio. Pundits are flipping out and providing a baseless and transparent explanation of why people want the specs that match his/her favored service and not whatever specs are in Blu-Ray.
People don’t want giant companies forcing them to repurchase movies in Blu-Ray that they already own on DVD, especially movies that they have watched dozens of times and are sick of. This is a strawman. Was there some memo I missed? Was I not home when the stormtroopers charged into my house to force me to repurchase my DVDs at gunpoint? Or is the pundit’s meltdown triggering a psychotic break from reality?
  • Digital Distribution is the one format to rule them all, once that becomes the prefered format the battle will swtich to who you get your download from.

    It is a real race now to sell a cheap player that everybody can afford. Although selling Blu-ray films at a higher price than the same film on DVD will slow adoption. And some people with smaller than 30″ sets won’t really be able to see an improvement over upscaled DVD.

  • Solid_Nat

    Nice breakdown Darrin! I think these people have issues with declaring a clear winner. Most have got egg on their face after coming out and saying that HD-DVD will win and Blu-Ray is another beta-max! I don’t think they counted on the PS3 helping sales. Are these the same poeple that said putting a DVD player in a console would be a waste of time?

    Yes Sony have backed a few formats that haven’t quite worked (mini-disc/UMD) but that doesn’t mean that they cant back one that will. Next week they will all be lauding digital downloads as the future as Microsoft deposits more money into there accounts….. you cant buy everything, ultimately the consumer, we, decide!

  • Emrah

    From a format agnostic view:

    On a 32 inch screen, from 2.5 meters, the difference between 1080p and 720p is quite negligable. The difference between a well mastered and upscaled DVD and a 720p version is very little compared to the difference between a VCD and DVD.

    I believe the difference starts to show after 42 inch screens.. Also, most people are not audiophiles, extra high fidelity comes really behind 5.1 sound. My views are based on the average people around me and not techno geeks.

    Blu-ray’s biggest competition is still DVD.

  • I stopped buying DVD’s even before getting my PS3. I now officially own more Blu-Ray Movies then DVD’s. I like my Blu Ray, and I love the fact that Sony announced that they will ship PSP compatible releases with the BD you bought, So I can see the movie when I’m underway as well without the tedious job of converting etc.

  • Samus

    Digital download? Ha! With Virginmedia providing my internet, in the time it would take to download a full HD movie, I could apply for a weekend job, do four months work, earn enough for a stack of Blu-ray discs and plenty spare to buy the wife something nice and settle down to watch the lot.

    In Britain at least, there’s plenty of internet services that simply wouldn’t be able to (or want to) cope with digital downloads like that. Maybe in the future, but for now, no no.

  • Darrin

    How about cash? or drug prescriptions? or FAX machines? All that stuff should be computerized long before movie distribution. The benefits and convenience savings are far more important than movies. Movie discs are already pretty darn convenient.

    Network downloads (both Internet, pay-per-view, and cell phone services) are the obvious long-term future, but their rise will be gradual, and for the near term, they will coexist with discs, just like movie theaters, pay-per-view, and cable tv.

    All the pundits predicting a complete takeover of download services in the next several years are crazy.

  • People don’t need to re-buy their movies, since Blu-ray players play DVDs just fine – and even upscale to HD. DVDs played through my PS3 or my Sony RDR-HXD870 look way better than on a standard DVD player.

    As Samus says, the world isn’t ready for HD downloads. HD movies are gigabytes in size, which would still take an age to download even on the fastest publicly available internet connection. I’m currently on a 20MB connection, which is one of the fastest available in the UK; even so, a HD movie file would take me hours to download.

    Besides which, many ISPs impose caps or download limits, which would mean that downloading 1 or 2 movies would either cut off or restrict your internet for a set period of time, depending on the ISP. And before anyone mentions compression… what’s the point in downloading a compressed HD film? You will only lose quality, which entirely defeats the point of HD.

    Then you have the fact that the only suitable storage medium currently available for such movies is a hard drive, and even they will need to increase in capacity drastically before you could store many HD films on them. Plus, they’re still prone to failure, and one error could wipe out a few movies, or even your entire collection. In terms of purchasing movies to keep, that’s a hell of a risk – whereas well looked after optical media will last you a lifetime.

    I don’t care what MS would have us believe, nor what anyone else says – the only currently viable method of distributing and storing HD movies is on optical media, irrespective of whether that be Blu-ray or any other format. And I don’t see that situation changing significantly within the next 10 years at least.

  • liar

    Darrin, HD DVD was a guerilla marketing tactic to slowdown adoption of Blu-ray and the PS3 that’s why you see the illogical nonsense that defies common sense. As you nicely pointed out.

    Those “independent” journalists, bloggers, game reviewers simply aren’t..they are explained fully in the link below. Just update for our current times – you can add moderators of key forums squashing one side of the discussions to sway opinions. Like allowing misinformation to spread in regards to HD DVD vs Blu-ray for the last several years.

    PS3 sites that aren’t really PS3 sites but mole sites full of backhanded compliments about the PS3.Subtly painting overall doom and gloom. “We really hope and pray the PS3 can but frankly we fear for the worst…” kind of editorial with every article they print. And yet their sister xbox sites never talk in the same tone about the 360. Nothing but upbeat talk about how great it is and RROD’s aren’t that big of a deal in comparison to Sony going with the silver faceplate instead of all black ..geez it’s a great system except can’t recommend it because they screwed up “big time” – buy a 360 instead – sarcasm off.

    Certain gaming sites are a joke for very good reasons. Read the link. Here is the teaser..

    “Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog.”…

    Explains a lot about the vilification of the PS3 and Sony. Evangelism is not about promoting your own product but the “damnation” of the competition. Damnation is a pretty carte blanch way of saying anything is acceptable. Anything.

    Suggest you read the Exhibit 3096 pdf at the end of the first paragraph. Some of it is standard business stuff that all companies engage in, but some of it crosses the line.

    Btw this information all came out of public anti-trust trials. As part of the settlement this information literally disappeared from the States’ on-line archives overnight. Yes vanished from the Internet, caches, the whole shebang. That’s a public institution we are talking about. Luckily some people anticipated they would do that and saved a copy to keep it in the public domain.

    Digital downloads is going to be more of the same nonsense and lies that you pointed out..the inconsistency being the key trait of a shill and bullshitter.

  • liar

    Oh btw the strawman is one of their favorite techniques in general and especially to setup the vilification/bond of THEIR enemy being your enemy – they love to use that to hide who is really up to what. Again as you clearly pointed out.

  • Darrin

    Thanks so much liar! I enjoyed the article that you linked. Microsoft is notorious for faking independent/grassroots support, buying media shills, and in general being obnoxious, dishonest, and manipulative. Part of that is necessary for business (Sony + Sun Microsystems are catching up and doing some of the same stuff on a much smaller scale), but some of it definitely goes overboard and is very offensive.

    I try to ignore the ugly politics and mud slinging most of the time, but for occasions like this, where there is some widespread BS, something really needed to be said.

  • Sporty

    These same pundits are getting a history of being wrong.

    Nearly all of them were gung-ho on HD-DVD being more widely accepted due to DVD being in their name a few years ago. Once Blu-Ray became marketed enough that people associated it with Hi-Def they switched to interactivity. Once BD started to catch up they switched to ‘completed spec’ argument. Since BD outsold HD-DVD over the holidays and snagged warner it became Digital Download. If you see a pattern here it’s ‘anything but Blu-Ray’. Follow the money and you can see who these guys really champion. Not consumers, that’s for sure.

    From a sane prospective Digital Downloads will for several years be a niche market whose main competition will be rentals. With ISPs implementing soft caps on downloads, high compression rates where most Downloads in HD have less detail then upscaled DVDs and needing to buy a set top box that costs nearly as much as a Blu-Ray player it’s not something that mainstream will be willing deal with.

    With most consumers unable to set their own clocks on VCRs back in the day you really think buying a AppleTV, setting up WiFi, leaving your PC on to stream the movies and not being able to loan them out or watch them on any other device then the ones set up on the accounts are consumer friendly? And don’t forget that AppleTV (while not the only one but probably the best chance at getting acceptance) has been out for 8 months and flopped hard core, the new HD gimmick aspect is just throwing a band aide and fresh coat of paint on a failed product. Only now they are trying to sell it to a smaller market then it’s first round that failed.

    The only people that will listen to the Digital Download drum beat are the ones that bought into other failed products, and lucky for us their isn’t enough of them to make a difference.

  • Sporty

    @ liar.

    “add moderators of key forums squashing one side of the discussions to sway opinions.”

    This is one of the sad things that will do lasting damage on the enthusiast community for years to come. Once AVS cuddled up to Amir, refused any experts to dispute his FUD and BS and dealt heavy moderation on negative HD-DVD and Pro BD threads it went from one of the most respected sites to a joke over the summer. I know other sites did the same thing but AVS for me was a regular stop that I now avoid.

  • JimmyStewart

    Good list, I agree 100%. I’m a bit shocked to see the first post defending digital downloads. Maybe it’s just me but I’ll never have a digital download replace a physical product. I may download a song in a pinch… but I will never buy an album digitally. I don’t like or trust the idea of “downloading” an album which I can’t hold and which can be so easily lost. I love digital downloads for renting… but they will never replace buying a physical disc to me. I earned quite a few free songs on iTunes… really irritating to have to burn them to a physical CD and re-encode them losing even more quality to get them to play on a non-iPod mp3 player I ended up buying later. There’s far too much that will have to change before I can see digital downloads being anything but a small market for rentals.

    As for liar’s comments… I don’t even know where to begin. When people don’t support the console of your choice it’s so easy to believe there’s an elaborate conspiracy against it. There’s been plenty of negative spin from both companies and it’s part of their jobs… I don’t see why that’s a surprise. What does surprise me is why consumers confuse a product with something they feel the need to be loyal to. I’ll grant you that Sony isn’t usually portrayed very nicely in the press… but that’s usually because they haven’t had the best start so far. This isn’t to do with any people planted by MS who have somehow managed to spin the issue to convince the general public against their will. For the most part this is a simple and honest observation that the console that beat the XBox so handily last time around is struggling to keep up. I can understand your frustration but keep in mind it doesn’t do any good to try and pretend the negativity only goes one way. As an owner of all the consoles I’m constantly at odds with a majority of what anyone says. At this site, I’m usually backed into the 360’s corner to balance out a lot of negative spin… on 360 sites I’m backing the PS3. I read just as many horrible things about the 360 as I do the PS3. The difference is that most people move on from the 360s faults to some of the great games on the system. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again… you can blame the PS3 troubles on secret MS “moles” planted to spin the public… or you can go to Best Buy as see the gaming selection and realize that the PS3 isn’t as popular because they need a wider selection of games. In the first year I’ve only seen a few really good games come my way (Resistance, Heavenly Sword, Drakes Fortune and Ratchet… all good but not great) but I haven’t seen anything that would constitute a system seller. Once Sony gets more exclusive good games and even one or two really great ones then I have no doubt they’ll be passing up the 360 in sales.

  • Darrin

    Jimmy, nice post. You have a lot of good points. I completely agree with everything liar said, but people like him and myself are definitely being a little over-defensive. BTW, Tosh/Gary/Henning are much better at refraining from these defensive-type threads than I, so it’s not all of us.

    I’m definitely disagree with you on a few things, but it would be in bad taste to debate them right now. Keep up the great posts.

  • JimmyStewart

    Thanks for the support! 🙂 I’m trying to single handled balance a lot of this stuff out. I know I should just leave well enough alone and let the fans support their systems with all the biased posts they want… but I just feel we can all be happy about our own systems without needing to try and drag anyone else down. And I know in general this site seems pretty good about keeping the 360 hate down to a minimum, it’s just a weird place to be reading about other sites being biased about a console. There’s a reason I keep coming to the site, and it’s not for the debates (although they’ve been very pleasant when they do occur). I keep coming back because I love my PS3 and I like to hear positive news from people who obviously love the console.

    But I wanted to add to the list of industry pundit complaints… my mom just sent me a link today. It was to an MSNBC article that was titled something like “Thinking of buying Blu-Ray? Hit the pause button”. One of the points they tried to make in the article was that “most” Blu-Ray players wouldn’t work in the future as they weren’t upgradeable and were stuck at the now out-dated profile 1.0. They do mention the PS3 has a network connection, but they really seem to imply if you can’t update your player it will be worthless in a years time.

  • liar

    @JimmyStewart. The PS3 outsold the 360 in 2007 despite having no good games as you claim and started with a late launch in Europe.

    The fact is those were the words of MS themselves about how they manipulate the perceptions of their competitors and the industry. NO elaborate conspiracy theory required…your attempts to paint it as one is the more difficult part to believe given the testimony at the trials. Legal depositions and evidence and all that. I’m not the conspiracy theorist but you are being an MS apologist .. instead creating convoluted explanations in exchange for the black and white trial evidence of how they stack the media. Add-in their convictions for multiple monopoly abuses and their ongoing abuse of the ISO process in regards to OOXML. It’s called a pattern of behavior…not a conspiracy theory. Nice try though 🙂

    Your gaming store analogy statement doesn’t ring true either because the same situation applies of more games available in Europe…so if what you said is true we would see the same results everywhere. And we don’t. The one BIG difference is MS has significantly more connections and influence with the American media and retail sector than with European ones simply based on it being their home ground. And that’s were they put the most money and resources for influence. Back to the trial documents.

    The “all good but not great” comment about those PS3 games in particular is evidence of YOUR pro MS loyalty that you claim is my domain.

    I didn’t pick or not pick any console out of loyalty to anybody. I picked it based on our needs and what was best for us. Everything I posted about that type of MS behavior I knew about last time when I bought an Xbox – so much for loyalties.

    Your the one with the conspiracy theory about me because your loyal to MS and want to discredit anyone that doesn’t chant their party line. You can’t believe people make choices based on objective evaluations and not based on “loyalty” to any corporation. Learning and dealing with multiple systems that are increasing in complexity is why it’s only one console this time around. Plus the PS3 does so much more than games that the 360 is moot in terms of time availability.

    After objective evaluation the PS3 was simply better. Blu-ray movies, Blu-ray games, 7.1 sound, lossless sound, blu-tooth, wi-fi, memory card slots, HDMI, free PSN for EVERY member of our family, HDD laptop re-use, more on-line players, dedicated servers, content sharing on multiple consoles. That was my loyalty – the best product that innovated and pushed ahead and gave us the most choices. It’s doubly funny because given the lead the Xbox had over the PS2 I really expected the 360 to be closer to the PS3 than the PS2 would be able to jump. The PS3 turned out in the end to be the visionary product instead and the 360 which is a rehash of the Xbox with the FUD tactics laid out in those court documents as it’s crutch. Hey they could have just built a better product instead and then the PS3 would have actually been in trouble. And I would have bought it .. but a lousy product combined with their deceptions (HDMI, etc) = no trust/faith in delivering what they say.

    Maybe next time they won’t dump an untested, high failure rate product on the market that’s an incremental improvement over what I have. Maybe you can pass on the message if you know anyone there.

    Now people are beginning to see what was obvious to those that did their homework initially – not because of any loyalty to anyone – simply because it was actually a next gen product. Your missing the big picture – it’s about more than games now .. this isn’t the last generation game that MS is still playing. And Blu-ray movies + HDTV will be the decisive turning point to make that clear to everyone. Hopefully MS learns the right lessons instead of the wrong lessons they took away from the Xbox. They can’t afford to get it wrong again and get even further behind.