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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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  • by hedwards (940851) on Friday November 09, 2007 @11:59AM (#21295291)
    I agree, ultimately, I think that HD-DVD is probably going to be the winner, but really only because the equipment is less expensive, and seems less prone to manufacturing problems.

    I think from the consumer perspective that the formats aren't really different enough to justify two of them. Perhaps if blue ray could offer something compelling that wasn't available in HD-DVD, then they'd have something, but all you get is a bit of extra run time that'll rarely be used and more encryption. Most consumers don't even use all the functionality that regular DVDs provide. Few use the surround sound capabilities that most DVDs have.

    I haven't really seen anything which makes me think that one is really better than the other in a significant way.
  • Chess (Score:1, Interesting)

    by lymond01 (314120) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:03PM (#21295387)
    In chess, if you know you're going to win (which is often the case, sometimes several moves before it happens), it's customary to offer a draw out of courtesy, rather than to drag out the inevitable. While Sony may be trying to use this analogy, from popular opinion it seems more like admitting defeat.
  • by king-manic (409855) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:05PM (#21295425)

    If Sony's calling it a stalemate, then HD-DVD is already ahead. If all Sony can manage with it's PR department is to call the situation a "stalemate," then HD-DVD likely ahead in real terms. Incidentally, I just conducted an informal, non-scientific poll here in the office. Of 20+ people, only two had heard of Blu-Ray. Half had heard of HD-DVD, but almost all were able to figure out what it was by the name alone. It makes me think that HD-DVD has an advantage just because of its name.
    From all sources Blu-ray is still outselling HD DVD 2:1. Has so for the last 9 months, Blu ray is in a comfortable lead. But sony may have correctly spotted that widespread adoption is hindered by the format war. So While it's 2:1 lead may eventually kill off HD DVD, it will for sure delay the adoption of a HD format. This is likely a preamble to some sort of reconciliation with Toshiba and maybe an attempt to merge and enable hybrid players for the good of the industry.
  • by mgblst (80109) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:09PM (#21295485) Homepage

    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...


    This is very simplistic thinking. The fact is that Toshiba paid Paramount a lot of money to drop Blu-Ray support. Toshiba could pay everyone else to drop Blu-Ray support as well. So maybe you could explain how sticking to being "honest", and relying on the merits of the format would help win here? What an idiotic thing to say.

    It is clear how this is heading, just as Sony and Microsoft fight over exclusives for their consoles, Sony and Toshiba are going to fight over exclusives for their HD formats. Sony may have a superior format in some ways, size of data on the disc, but that wont win them the war.
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:11PM (#21295517)
    Of course, the other problem is that the difference between DVD and HDDVD/Bluray is not clear enough.

    When I first went to buy an HDTV, I was very excited. I got to the store, looked at everything... And then realized: I couldn't tell the difference between the HDTV and regular TV... Both were CRT at the time. I went away very disheartened.

    It wasn't until a couple years later that I finally bought an LCD HDTV for gaming, instead of TV, and I was very happy. To this day, I still can't see much difference between HD and regular TV on my 50" LCD. And while I can tell the difference between Bluray and DVD, the difference isn't big enough for me to justify spending twice as much on the discs.

    So, if I can hardly tell the difference and I'm fully invested in the system... What about normal people? All they have is the hype... There's no proof.

    I must say one thing has impressed me, though: Over the Air HD broadcasts. The same channel that is a mess of colored fuzz with sound in regular broadcasts is a perfectly clear channel in HD. (I admit, that could be my crappy antenna, though.)
  • by Kjella (173770) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:31PM (#21295947) Homepage
    Oh, I think I can predict who the winner [thepiratebay.org] is. I think the pain threshold is around "put it on when you go to sleep, done when you get home from school/work" which comes out to 30GB/16hrs = 4Mbit sustained. Now we're not quite there yet, but we're getting there. For several years now our main telco has been lying fiber to all new housing, so even if it doesn't happen overnight more and more buildings will be directly linked with fiber. At that point it's really just a question of how much you're willing to pay...
  • by pontificator (1160147) on Friday November 09, 2007 @12:38PM (#21296081)
    Some of you seem to be assuming that HD-DVD is doing very well while Blu-ray is floundering, but if you look around you'll see evidence to the contrary. Here are a few points from an editorial from The Digital Bits (http://www.thedigitalbits.com/articles/soapbox/soap060107.html), which favors Blu-ray, and a few other places:
    • Blockbuster, Target and BJ's Wholesale Club have all decided to promote Blu-ray exclusively in their U.S. retail store locations this holiday season
    • Blu-ray hardware prices are expected to be as low as $399 by Christmas (and possibly lower).
    • Retailers across the country are reporting that Blu-ray player sales have begun to outpace HD-DVD player sales over the summer.
    • Sony, Pioneer, Panasonic, Philips, LG, Sharp, Mitsubishi, Denon, Samsung and a few others make or will make Blu-ray players (Official Blu-ray site [blu-ray.com].)
    • Toshiba seems to be the only company making HD-DVD players ( Official HD-DVD site [thelookand...erfect.com])
    And just from my own observations at a few retailers in NY I see more Blu-ray movies than HD-DVDs on the shelves. I'm not buying a player until there's a clear winner, but if I had to buy soon (i.e. my DVD player dies) I'd pick a Blu-ray player.
  • by melted (227442) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:02PM (#21296567) Homepage
    That way you will enjoy the biggest library of HD content available and if Blu-Ray goes titsup, you still have a console you can play. If HD-DVD goes titsup, though, standalone players will be worthless.
  • by Lord Apathy (584315) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:30PM (#21297059)

    I hear you there. I had a shit load of sony before the rootkit shit, plus they fucked me over on my plampilot. A laptop, HD TV, camera, PS2, 400 DVD changer, home theater surround sound system, HD directv reciever, and the fore mentioned TH-55. I won't mention all the other odds and ends like blank sony dvd's and dvd writers.

    Sony fucked me on the th-55 first. I died. I sent it in for repairs the fuckers at the repair shop fuck it up. They say its not their fault and refused to honor the warranty. How the fuck can it not be covered? It died, i put it in a box and that is all I did. Some tech at the repair shop fucked it and covered his ass. That's what happened.

    That day I ebayed the camera, what was left of the palm (got a 100 bucks for it, go figure), and the laptop. I have a dell now. The TV croaked so I replaced it with a walmart knock off till LCD comes down and gets better. The HD reciever got replaced with a free H20 from directv. The DVD changer and home theater are still going strong but their days are numbered.

    The only the only thing that I think I'll have trouble to dump will be the ps2. Not going to own a ps3 anytime soon so I'll keep the ps2 till it croaks. I have my eyes set on a xbox360 anyway.

    I figure by this time next year I'll be sony free. Except for all the sony movies I download or copy. I have to make up the cost of that pda some how.

  • by SpryGuy (206254) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:48PM (#21297389)
    Weird. I have a 46" 1080p HD-TV that I just bought, and the difference between HD channels and regular channels is STUNNING to me. So dramatic, in fact, that I hate going back to 'standard def' TV for those channels I don't have in HD (which, alas, is most of them).

    I am not about to pick a horse in this format war just yet (especially not at these prices), so I just replaced my existing DVD player with a cheap "Up-converting" DVD player-Recorder ($100! AND it plays and copies VHS tapes to DVD!) ... and my existing DVD collection looks tons better than it ever did on my old TV with my old player.

    Now, I can't see much difference between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, video quality-wise, but the video quality difference between the HD channels and the standard def channels is dramatic, and I could never go back.
  • by rabt68 (1186853) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:52PM (#21297465)
    Just as VHS beat out Beta, HD DVD has figured out the best way to win. If your product has lower prices on the player/hardware, then that is the one the mass public will buy. Just last week Best Buy and Walmart had HD DVD players on sell for $99.99 and I believe the cheapest Blu-ray is still around $250.00 or more. Quality will never win over ease of use and lower price.
  • by Skapare (16644) on Friday November 09, 2007 @01:55PM (#21297525) Homepage

    If Sony really wants Blu-Ray to win, it will "bite the bullet" and sell players for $100 and recorders for $200 during the 2007 Christmas holiday shopping season and make up the loss in future volume. Since products have already shipped to stores, they will need to do a rebate. To avoid annoying potential customers, it will need to be an "in store instant rebate". Otherwise most people (these are the people that don't give a damn about technical issues) will buy what is cheapest, and that is now HD-DVD.

  • Re:Stalemate? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:09PM (#21298993)
    Well, I fully expected BR to win because of Sony's PS3 strategy. Sell lots of PS3s, which just happen to be BR players, and you instantly have a huge BR user base. And it worked to some extent, as since PS3 started shipping, BR discs have outsold HD-DVD discs 2-1. But PS3 hasn't sold nearly as well as had been predicted, and a 2-1 selling advantage isn't that big, not nearly enough to kill off HD-DVD. Now, HD-DVD players are being sold for $200 and less (even $99), and BestBuy/Walmart sold 100k HD-DVD players just last weekend. Meaning that HD-DVD players are beginning to sell faster than PS3s, and all of those players are going to be used to play HD-DVD discs, while only a fraction (could be big, could be small) of PS3s are used to play BR discs. Meanwhile, the standalone BR player market (i.e. the BR players that aren't PS3s) is pretty much dead, with very few units being sold.

    So, even though BR has had the "lead" due to the PS3, things are beginning to trend the other way now. Sony was ready to declare victory a few months ago. That they are now declaring "stalemate" is an admission of defeat.
  • Re:Just Bought (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DECS (891519) on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:42PM (#21299481) Homepage Journal
    Neither Blu-Ray nor HD-DVD "tapes" are cheaper--they are both prohibitive expensive in -R/-RW versions, and movies on both are quite expensive. If you were really paying attention during the VHS/Betamax wars, the real issues were:

    - availability of rental movies (because there was no retail market for movies at reasonable prices until DVD)
    - length of recording time (Beta couldn't originally do an hour and a half on a single tape)
    - other features (VHS integrated a clock for time shifting).

    Format Wars in Home Theater [roughlydrafted.com]

    None of those issues really apply to BR or HD-DVD. You also gloss over the fact that Sony helped to develop both CD and DVD, in your attempts to suggest that Sony has only ever failed with Betamax and MiniDisc. That sounds like "concern FUD."

    The real failures that are relevant today are SA-CD and DVD-Audio, both of which tried to sneak in new DRM under the premise of delivering HD audio content. Sound familiar? Here's a hint: BR and HD-DVD are doing the same thing for video.

    What's really shocking is how badly both are selling. Both sides are chatting up how they're in the lead, but combined together, both couldn't manage to sell more than a million players by this summer. That's ZUNE-like! Each have sold about 300,000 stand alone players up to this summer.

    The only clear winner is Sony's bundled PS3, which purposely tagged along a BR drive to create an installed base for BR and drop the price of manufacturing. That means there are lots more BR players, but only because of the PS3:

    Blu-Ray: 7.3 million
    300,000 standalone
    7,000,000 PS3 bundled

    HD-DVD: 0.3 million
    150,000 standalone
    150,000 Xbox 360 optional disc player units

    That isn't good on either side. 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? The only reason for either format to exist is to sell stronger DRM under the guise of HD, and to resell everyone the movies they already own.

    As for all the astroturfing about the "Sony root kit," remember that Microsoft's Windows Media is the same thing, you just voluntarily install it. Running from Sony into the arms of Microsoft, which facilitated the Sony root kit in Windows after launching Bill Gate's DRM wet dream of Palladium--well, its obvious that you're all frauds. Come on, Microsoft has never supported anything open or consumer-friendly.

    Origins of the Blu-ray vs HD-DVD War [roughlydrafted.com]
    Blu-ray vs HD-DVD in Next Generation Game Consoles [roughlydrafted.com]

    Is a Root Kit only evil if its installed by an evil third party, but "A-OK" if its shoehorned in by Microsoft? Because WGA and WMA are both exactly the same thing as Sony's third party root kit, it's just that Microsoft additionally uses its access to send home data on top. Spyware + Root Kit DRM. The Windows Enthusiasts don't seem to mind getting bent over by Microsoft, but sure have a lot to say about DRM from anyone else.

    Ten Myths of Mac OS X Leopard: 9 Apple Is Spying on Users! [roughlydrafted.com]

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:45PM (#21299533)

    The second issue that I expect to be decisive is that Sony refuses to allow porn on Blu-Ray, HD-DVD does not attempt to restrict the content produced. I don't think that any format is viable if the provider attempts to restrict the content. Even if you don't want porn, how can you be sure Sony won't make some new restriction you do care about?
    Ironically, the porn market is ran by some smart people. While I expect that HD-DVD allowing porn WILL be some level of advantage, most porn is already moving onto the internet for digital distribution. I think physical media will remain, only for those people who are either stubborn to adopt new technologies ('course HDTV isn't likely to be in their homes) and people who are simply unable to get broadband internet. Lots of sites do subscriptions at $20-30 per month and have weekly updates (or when you consider that one membership usually includes access to half a dozen sites, all updated weekly, it's more like daily updates). And most of this: completely DRM free. A few companies even started out with DRM in place, and then later completely removed it. And the quality? A lot of the better quality sites have video available in HD now.
  • by neepey (1186295) on Friday November 09, 2007 @04:41PM (#21300381)
    Blu-ray may have a higher storage capability but take a look a the stats for discs actually used... http://www.blu-raystats.com/index.php [blu-raystats.com] - approx. 60% use the 25 GB disc while almost all HD DVD movies are in the 30 GB dual layer format.
  • by woodhouse (625329) on Friday November 09, 2007 @10:07PM (#21303727) Homepage
    >Ideally, it would be a lossless transfer.

    Yeah, good luck with that. Uncompressed 1080P video is roughly 500GB per hour (assuming 1920*1080 & 3 bytes/pixel @ 24hz). When you find a lossless compressor which can compress that down to 20GB or so, please let me know.

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