Well, the non-starter issue isn’t that big a deal, because every new technology goes through it… the geek factor. Only those really in-tune do it. We’ll call that a technology soft launch. It’s up to that group to create feedback, hype and such to make any initial marketing concepts get any traction. That’s not to say they are the success or failure of a technology, but quite often in the wake of industry buzz, format wars or standards wars, it’s this group that gives direction and insight into how to successfully market them.
The industry (tech manufacturers) are still speaking loudest and most publicly on Blu-Ray. No matter what article or study people cite, if you ask the average joe if they’ve heard of either this buzz reaches most people with the name Blu-Ray attached to it. In some cases they even just think of HD-DVD is a simple term for Blu-Ray, and not another format.
All that said, the hype and buzz around broadband delivery for all devices is much bigger than another hard format. As long as we don’t hit giant bandwidth or cost limitations (and the pipeline says not as likely as once thought) there is no reason why this shouldn’t circumvent the physical format war. If anything, the debate on which way to archive your downloaded movies in terms of format, ie: Blu-Ray recordables or HD-DVD recordables.
To what Dave said about hardware and awareness… yeah, one of the huge problems is HDMI. So many HDs got into the affordability range in the last year or two, and of those it’s not until VERY recently that many of those have included HDMI connectors. So, as prices do come down how many people are going to buy a $500 player AND a $1200 TV? So there you go. These technologies are too dependent on consumer interest in a pre-requisite technology. Let’s also talk about the fact that the vast majority of people that are buying HDTVs are actually buying 720p plasmas and LCDs. How much better is Blue-Ray and HD-DVD going to look… oh only marginally because of the connector type and the player? Ah fuck it, I’ll wait until I buy another TV and/or the next thing come along. Enter streaming.
Apple TV, upcoming Tivos and a slew of other very visible products do what these two formats can do… stay compatible with what the end user already has. Fuck new physical formats, give me 1TB of a rolling storage (cheap if you had a USB2 array of Wester Digital externals) and a fat recordable format to back them up… I don’t need to shop the best buy at all.
DRM is a whole other issue that I wish would get dropped. Content is king, and if the independent film movement of the last 2 decades has taught us anything, it’s that the bloated model of studios and their greediness is no longer needed to entertain people. It’s getting their fingers out of the pie that is the trick. If they’d get off of their “protect us from piracy” high-horse and make it easy for people to buy content, rather than harder to own it… people will give up their dollars. Take a $20 physical movie, strip it’s physical distribution markup, it’s packaging design markup, it’s packaging, storage and display markup, it’s physical media creation and manufacture cost, and add back into that digital artwork costs and electronic delivery cost and markup, and you’ve got a similar model where everyone makes a killing on a $11 price point, and the user doesn’t feel like they have to either skip the purchase or pirate stuff just to be entertained. Now, I don’t think this addresses people that will pirate no matter what, but I do think it addresses the people that have a scenario like this:
A family that’s not tech savvy buys an Apple TV, downloads a family movie. Their kid is totally addicted to it. Without DRM they could burn it to a DVD or other format for the player in the kid’s room, in the car or whatever. Take it a step further… without DRM, devices can become simpler and cheaper, so they could transfer it , or allow it to play on the home network on any TV in the house, any iPod video, any cell phone that supports it.
If things continue the way they are, the industry will actually expect them to buy the online version for the family entertainment system. Buy a physical copy for the kid’s room, and/or the car. You want it on your iPod? No problem, buy it… but it will only work on your iPod. You want it on your phone? You can download clips from your carrier’s site, pay for the individual clips and still not have the movie.
Fuck the model. The studios need to buy stake in all of the delivery methods to make their money, and start licenses instead of stupid ass physical items and format/compatibility confusion.
Paramount can just license Tommy Boy for 5 devices (that model annoys some people but works for most) or better yet… could just license Tommy Boy to a person. Put it anywhere you want to. If you make it cheap enough and easy enough, people will buy it and not pirate it. Industry says: what’s to keep you from copying it to all your friend’s devices?” What’s to stop you from letting them borrow your stuff that has DRM all over it? These type of questions complicate the user experience in the name of the minority of situations, instead of the general rule. Leave it to a bunch of American companies (or foreign companies that make their money on the American business of movie making) to look at it that way.
I hate people.