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Sony Calls Current Blu-ray/HD DVD Format War a 'Stalemate 547

Posted by Zonk
from the feeling-a-touch-insecure dept.
unger814 writes "Sony CEO Howard Stringer says that Blu-ray and HD DVD are currently in a 'stalemate' and is 'playing down the importance of the battle.' Stringer addressed a crowd at Manhattan's 92nd Street Y cultural center Thursday, where he said that 'it was a matter of prestige' which format wins. Stringer pointed to the switch by Paramount from producing movies in both formats to only HD DVD as a turning point. 'We were trying to win on the merits, which we were doing for a while, until Paramount changed sides,' Stringer said."
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Sony Calls Current Blu-ray/HD DVD Format War a 'Stalemate

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  • Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by moogied (1175879) on Friday November 09, 2007 @10:48AM (#21295069)
    The first person to believe they have lost momentum is often the loser.
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Friday November 09, 2007 @10:49AM (#21295093) Homepage Journal
    Frosty piss!? Since the formats are roughly equal, then it is down to who does the dirtiest deals and knocks out their opponent with copious amounts of cash..
  • by RandoX (828285) on Friday November 09, 2007 @10:49AM (#21295113)
    'We were trying to win on the merits, which we were doing for a while, until Paramount changed sides,'

    Now what? Are you going to try to win by unlawful or dishonest tactics? Not sure why you wouldn't try to win on the merits, unless you know that your product isn't as good...
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Friday November 09, 2007 @10:50AM (#21295121) Homepage
    This comes down to greed, pure and simple. Rather than sitting down and coming to a standard acceptable industry-wide, these corporations decided to go it alone and try to beat the other guys in a format war. The result has been market confusion. I heard one NPR analyst estimate that this format war has reduced the market for next-gen DVDs by 90% - in other words, 90% of potential consumers stay away until the war has a clear winner. And there's no end in sight. I hope the format war continues on indefinitely, to teach companies a lesson not to do this in the future.

  • Blu-ray vs HD DVD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy.tpno-co@org> on Friday November 09, 2007 @10:50AM (#21295143) Homepage
    In this war, there may not be a winner, but I guarantee the consumers will be the losers. From high priced product ( which may go down in time ) to DRM shens ( Explain to your mom why the new movie she just bought for 30 bucks doesn't work in her 600 dollar player ).

    And like cattle, we line up to hand over our money.
  • what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by holywarrior21c (933929) on Friday November 09, 2007 @10:53AM (#21295197)

    it was a matter of prestige
    is it DRM what they call 'prestige'?
  • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrops (927562) on Friday November 09, 2007 @10:55AM (#21295225)
    Momentum! What momentum?

    Blu Ray never gained momentum, for that matter, neither did HD DVD. However its looking more and more that HD DVD is slowly gaining momentum. Paramount Switch, 100$ HDDVD players [yahoo.com].
  • by tzhuge (1031302) on Friday November 09, 2007 @10:58AM (#21295279)

    "And like cattle, we line up to hand over our money."

    What's actually happening is that people are just not buy HD discs and sticking to DVD. That's not what I would consider cattle like.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:00AM (#21295327) Homepage
    I will not be getting either one until there is a clear winner. So a stalemate is a loss for both sides.
  • Price Points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blhack (921171) * on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:02AM (#21295359)
    These things are still far to expensive. The jump between VHS quality and DVD quality was HUGE!! Not only did you start getting things like director's commentary and deleted scenes, but you got a much more "cinema like" experience. 5.1 dolby (in multiple languages if you need it), 16x9 Aspect ratio etc. etc. etc.

    Blu-ray/hddvd don't offer THAT huge of a jump from DVD....certainly not enough of an improvement to justify their [still] astronomical prices, not to mention the limited selection of titles.

    The first one to come out with a 30 dollar player will win the war.
  • by SlipperHat (1185737) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:02AM (#21295369)
    When BluRay and HD DVD first came out, DVD *just* became the standard. People like the latest and greatest in general, but give consumers some time to play with their toys before trying to sell them new ones. With recent news of uncertainty in the economy, BluRay and HD DVD are on the back-burner of the back-burner for a good while to come.
  • Not Just Prestige (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crymeph0 (682581) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:08AM (#21295461)
    Despite what Howard Stringer says, it seems obvious that there is much more than just prestige on the line for Sony. Specifically, if Blu-Ray loses to HD-DVD, the PlayStation 3, which is already overly expensive, would lose it's secondary selling point - as a Blu-Ray player. This would be disastrous for Sony, as even more people would choose the 360, which can be made to play HD-DVDs for a relatively small premium over the basic package.
  • As a consumer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bullfish (858648) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:14AM (#21295567)
    I really don't care which format wins. By the time I invest in an HD TV, I fully expect that the hybrid HD-DVD/ Blu-Ray players will be out and that is what I will buy. At that point, anyone who was an early adopter of wither of these technologies will probably pick one of them up as well. It's not like VHS vs Beta as in that case, the formats required tapes that were physically different in size. The discs don't have that limitation.
  • by mgblst (80109) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:14AM (#21295569) Homepage
    This comes down to greed, pure and simple.

    This is a foolish statement. It has nothing to do with greed, everything to do with profits. (How can a company be greedy anyway, they are supposed to make as much money as they legally can) How can something like this be modded up. Why do people persist in calling companies greedy, when it makes as much sense as calling your car greedy for oil, or your hat greedy. The fact that you got modded up to 5 only proves that there are a lot of fools that make the same mistake.
  • hybrid player? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by valderost (668593) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:17AM (#21295615) Journal
    Whatever. Just sell me a player that reads both formats.
  • by rbarreira (836272) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:18AM (#21295643) Homepage

    Specifically, if Blu-Ray loses to HD-DVD, the PlayStation 3, which is already overly expensive, would lose it's secondary selling point - as a Blu-Ray player.

    Actually, it's even worse. If Blu-Ray loses, Blu-Ray players will stop being manufactured. Sony is relying on economies of scale to drive down the costs of Blu-Ray diodes and drives, which will make it even harder for them to make a profit on the PS3.

    In the past 1.5 years they've already lost half the profit they made on the Playstation brand since 1997 (you can check it on their financial reports).

    Combine that with the astronomical price cuts they're being forced to do, and you have the recipe for financial disaster at Sony's game division. There may never be a PS4 if things keep going the way they're going now.
  • by veganboyjosh (896761) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:27AM (#21295821)
    While you're at it, I'd stay away from the ethnic foods aisle [slashdot.org] as well...
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:31AM (#21295935) Homepage
    It's greed because instead of being content to try to get the industry to agree on a standard (which would have resulted in a fully functional market, in which everyone makes a fair profit) they decided to try to standardize in their own proprietary formats, resulting in a confused market that people stay away from - and nobody profits. That's greed, by definition.
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:34AM (#21296005) Homepage
    I wouldn't go that far. The big players in this - Sony, Toshiba, Microsoft, Paramount - are very big and diversified companies. Losing will cost them money, but not bankrupt them.
  • Just Bought (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WED Fan (911325) <akahigeNO@SPAMtrashmail.net> on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:35AM (#21296035) Homepage Journal

    We just bought our first HDTV, they then knocked the price of a Toshiba HD DVD player down to $169 if we bought it at the same time. I asked about Blu Ray, the salesman said they'd love to, but they aren't getting the incentives from the factories and wholesalers. Plus, Blu Ray has that awful problem that Beta had in the 80's, license fees that keep the price floor artificially high.

    If you remember the VHS/Beta wars, the winning factor really wasn't quality, it was price. You could get the VHS machines cheaper, and the tapes were cheaper. Sony keeps biting their own tail.

    If it continues down familiar Sony lines, HD DVD will be the dominant one, and Blu Ray will go the way of the Beta and MD.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:36AM (#21296041) Homepage Journal
    You see I think Sony has seen the sales figures from the under $100 HD-DVD players. BestBuy sold out and I think Walmart did as well. When Black Friday comes I think HD-DVD players will be back below $100. At that price people will buy them just because they bought an HDTV last Black-Friday. The winner of the format wars will be the first to get below $100. When it reaches that price point it becomes a why not purchase.
    My guess is that this announcement is to prep us for Sony to start supporting HD-DVD.
  • Re:Stalemate? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mihalis (28146) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:36AM (#21296043) Homepage

    This a very unconvincing argument to me. History doesn't necessarily prove that Sony always loses. An equally compelling interpretation is that that the format with more capacity and better library of titles wins. Well that was VHS last time and Blu-Ray this time. VHS allowed an entire feature length movie on one tape and had more of them to offer when it launched. Many people have said that was the key reason that VHS won.

    By the way, I don't disagree that the formats you mention failed, but I seem to recall Sony being one of the two developers (with Philips) of this little thing called audio CD. How did that do? :)

  • by tempest69 (572798) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:44AM (#21296207) Journal
    After Sony added the rootkits to their CD-ROMs, I lost trust in them as a company. I figure If I'm one more person who boycotts their blu-ray launch, they might just get a clue how much damage the rootkit did to their customer loyalty.

    I'll probably hold the grudge for another five-ish years if they can keep their nose clean.

    Storm

  • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:45AM (#21296231) Homepage Journal
    37 vs. 54 Mbps isn't peanuts.

    That said, if studios encode once and stick it on both formats Blu-ray has no advantage.

    -Peter
  • by ad0gg (594412) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:56AM (#21296435)
    Sony just saw HD-DVD camp sell 100k players in a weekend at the $100 pricepoint and more would have been sold if walmart and bestbuys stock didn't deplete. Thats why sony is scared. They will always be more expensive than HD-DVD and rumours are toshiba is going to drop the of their entry level HD-DVD player to $150 for the Xmas season.
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:12PM (#21296755) Homepage Journal

    The laser diodes are identical for both BluRay and HD-DVD.

    I am certain that my car has at least one component in common with a Ferrari, but that doesn't mean you can build a Ferrari for the same price.

  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:14PM (#21296795)

    Paramount was paid for switching to HD-DVD, but it's not the only reason. Paramount does appear to believe HD-DVD is technically a superior system.

    If they believed all that strongly in HD-DVD's technical merits, the switch wouldn't have required grease on the wheels. Additionally, you're citing Panasonic's CTO as to the switch. No matter what the reason was, he's going to tell you it wasn't the money. Even if it was, in fact, the money.

  • Re:Price Points (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trojan35 (910785) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:17PM (#21296845)
    "The first one to come out with a 30 dollar player will win the war."

    The problem isn't the player, it's the discs. The first one to get movies to me for a $10-$20 price point, and not the $35-$40 price point, wins in my book.
  • by Asic Eng (193332) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:31PM (#21297073)
    I think these days format wars are no longer resolved. Instead hybrids will come out which can handle whatever format you throw at them.
  • Re:Price Points (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bubba451 (779167) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:35PM (#21297149)

    The first one to come out with a 30 dollar player will win the war.
    As long as studios are aligning with only one format (Paramount with HD-DVD, Disney with Blu-Ray), it's a war that can't be won, which I guess is pretty much the point Stringer is making. Personally, I'm excited for a high definition format, and would jump at even a $299 player if it actually played all of the titles that were out there. But I, like pretty much every one else, don't want to be saddled with an obsolete and useless box (whether it cost me $99 or $999), and buying TWO new boxes is not an acceptable "solution."
  • by ivan256 (17499) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:23PM (#21298069)
    Yes, but your car probably doesn't have the most expensive component in common with a Ferrari...

    The only differences between an HD-DVD drive and a BluRay drive are the lens, and software.
  • by benwaggoner (513209) <ben.waggoner@micros o f t .com> on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:47PM (#21298605) Homepage
    Once content visually looks like the source, more bits aren't going to make it look any differnt. Not having enough bits is a big problem, but having more than enough is just burning capacity.

    Try making some JPEG exports in the 80-100 quality range, and look at the connection between file size and vistual quality. You'll not that there's a point where a higher quality doesn't look any different, but the file size keeps getting bigger and bigger.

    Also, nothing is wrong with my eyes or my television, since I'm a professional compressionist who works with professional grade video displays :).
  • by havenskate (964747) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:57PM (#21298775)
    What about TV Shows? You could fit great quality complete seasons on one disc (maybe not perfect quality, but very very good).

    No reason for multiple discs and that also helps with cost... They don't sell seasons by disc...

    Off-topic: When is The Simpsons going HD!? I'd think cartoons would be the easiest transition ever.
  • Re:Just Bought (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nuzak (959558) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:21PM (#21299211) Journal
    > You could get the VHS machines cheaper, and the tapes were cheaper.

    You could also get longer tapes, which made a huge difference. And while technically Blu-Ray also has higher capacity, it's too huge to make a real difference to anyone, since they don't record their shows on blu-ray discs anyway.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:33PM (#21299381)
    So, Bluray discs have a super hard coating, but if that coating gets scratched, it's game over for the disc, can't be polished by standard means. HDDVDs are constructed more like DVDs, and light scratching is ignored or can be polished.

    You must have missed the YouTube video [youtube.com] showing that knives and steel wool do not affect the coating.

    Next myth, please.
  • Re:Just Bought (Score:1, Insightful)

    by wicka (985217) on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:53PM (#21300543)
    "Neither format delivers anything that couldn't be done with DVDs using H.264. Who needs PC-style navigation or 20 hours of "extra features" when you can easily put an HD movie on DVD?"

    Of course it can't be because a movie with six times (1920x1080 as opposed to 720x480) as many pixels can't fit on 8.5GB.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @04:28PM (#21301059)
    Wow, looks like some a-hole had mod points & modded his own flamebait informative.

    Posting anon, because he may still have points.
  • by Teriblows (1138203) on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:02PM (#21301565)
    stand alone http://www.tvpredictions.com/forum/comments.php?y=07&m=11&entry=entry071108-051750 [tvpredictions.com] the 90,000 recently announced for a week did not include online sales by amazon and others so its actually higher.
  • Re:Just Bought (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wdomburg (141264) on Friday November 09, 2007 @05:58PM (#21302291)
    Eh? Where are you getting your numbers? Toshiba is nearing the half million mark with players and the most recent numbers of the Xbox add-on peg sales at 200k through September. And that doesn't include notebook drives. I haven't seen any numbers on how many of those have been shipped, but Toshiba has been talking about a target of 5 million by the end of next year.

    As for Blu-ray, I haven't seen a figure on the total number of units, but year to date sales reported through September by NPD break 53% hd-dvd, 44% blu-ray, 3% dual format. This was before the 90k unit sales surge last weekend. And that doesn't take into account the headstart that Toshiba had or the slow initial sales of Blu-ray.

    The Playstation does give a larger installed base, but nowhere near the figure you gave. To date sales in the United States are a mere 2.26M. And estimates are that the majority of owners (as many as 80%) don't use them to watch movies at all. It certainly would explain why the sales figures have remained about 1.8:1 instead of the 3.5:1 that the Blu-ray camp was projecting by the end of the 1Q07.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 09, 2007 @08:21PM (#21303445)
    The GP was talking about H.264, which does better than Microsoft's VC-1.

    For a 9 Gig disk, you have about 9GB/(2 hours*60min/hour*60sec/hour) = 1.25MBps or 10Mbps (I know I'm mixing 10^3 and 2^10).

    1080i60 at 10Mbps looks fantastic. Even 1080p60 at 10Mbps looks awesome.
  • by Zalbik (308903) on Saturday November 10, 2007 @08:11PM (#21310173)
    Well too bad for you, DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray are all compressed LOSSY. It's just a small enough loss that you don't really notice.

    Lossless transfer would require insanely large disks...likely in the Terrabyte range.

    I've seen HD and DVD on an HD television. I certainly wouldn't call it "night and day". It noticible, sure, but IMHO only if I'm watching a movie specifically for the effects. Problem is, if I'm watching a movie specifically for effects, it probably sucks as a movie.

    I think the big problem is that (a) crappy movies are still crappy, regardless of how good they look. (b) good movies don't gain much from HD.

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