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Sony Paid Warner Bros. $400 Million to Go Blu-Ray? 487

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the beats-having-to-say-hd-dvd-all-the-time dept.
eldavojohn writes "How much would you pay to be the leading video media technology right now? Is $400 million too much? Sony didn't think so and this article speculates that's how they won the Hi-Def format war. 'With billions of dollars in global sales at stake, experts had predicted the Toshiba-Sony battle would go on for years - not unlike the 1980s battle of videotape formats between VHS (Matsushita) and Betamax (Sony). That war lasted a decade, leaving Sony battered and humiliated. So how did this epic battle come to such an abrupt end? The answer lies in part with the bruising Sony experienced with Betamax, which, like Blu-ray, was also the better product on paper.'"
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Sony Paid Warner Bros. $400 Million to Go Blu-Ray?

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  • free market? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:03PM (#22520336)
    Now all those woffling on about free market eat your own hats.
    • Re:free market? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FauxPasIII (75900) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:09PM (#22520414)
      No they won't. For that crowd, bribery, collusion and cartelism are all part of the free-market experience, and they like it just fine! Just so long as the gummint doesn't butt in on all the fun.
      • Re:free market? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by homer_s (799572) on Friday February 22, 2008 @06:46PM (#22521838)
        So two people voluntarily made a transaction and you don't like it because it goes against your morals and what you think is "correct"?.

        So you agree with the crowd that wants to ban gay marriage?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by FauxPasIII (75900)
          > So two people voluntarily made a transaction and you don't like it because it goes against your morals and what you think is "correct"?.

          Corporations are not people.
        • Re:free market? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by immcintosh (1089551) <slashdotNO@SPAMianmcintosh.org> on Friday February 22, 2008 @08:47PM (#22523062) Homepage
          Short answer, yes and no.

          Longer answer, there are plenty of things we don't allow people to decide to do together. For example, kill each other. Doesn't matter one bit whether it's in private, voluntary, or not, it's simply not allowed. Likewise, things like bribery and collusion are regulated against because the majority find them unacceptable and detrimental to the general public welfare. Until somebody comes up with a consistent, coherent, universal ethical system (and nobody yet has), we're stuck with "mob rules" on a case by case basis when it comes down to it. Either that or barbarism and anarchy. Unfortunately, if the majority find gay marriage unethical (I certainly find no such thing), then we're stuck with that until and unless they become more enlightened.

          That is... unless you've got a Philosopher King in mind for us?

          P.S. Corporations are not people anyway. Here's the difference: people are assumed to have all rights naturally, and laws are made to restrict those rights. Corporations are assumed to have no rights naturally, and laws are made to grant those rights. Big damn difference.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Aereus (1042228)
        Game companies sign deals all the time to make certain games exclusive to a certain console. I guess they are in collusion as well?
      • Re:free market? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by spectecjr (31235) on Saturday February 23, 2008 @04:33AM (#22525358) Homepage
        No they won't. For that crowd, bribery, collusion and cartelism are all part of the free-market experience, and they like it just fine! Just so long as the gummint doesn't butt in on all the fun.

        Speaking of the Gummint butting in... whatever happened to the DOJ's investigation of claims that Sony was deliberately sabotaging the HD-DVD consortium? [afterdawn.com]? (In 2004, no less).

        The EU also fined Sony, Fuji, and Maxwell for price fixing [techluver.com]... a sign of things to come?

        Last July, the EU started investigating why Blu-Ray was winning [arstechnica.com], wondering "whether improper tactics were used to suppress competition and persuade the studios to back [Sony's] format."

        *shrugs*
    • Re:free market? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Captain Splendid (673276) * <capsplendid@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:12PM (#22520470) Homepage Journal
      Beat me to it. This is why I can't support unregulated capitalism (cue downmods from the /. libertarian brigade).

      Here's a thought exercise for you guys: Wipe the slate clean, everybody starts from zero, Adam Smith's extreme younger brother is in the hizzy.

      Now, exactly how many seconds pass before two or more similarly skilled people start pooling their resources to reduce cost/corner the market? You'd go from 0 to Microsoft in no time flat with this method.
      • Re:free market? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:23PM (#22520630)

        This is why I can't support unregulated capitalism

        Not to worry — there is no such thing.

      • These "format wars" aren't even really about competition, in the traditional sense of "multiple companies battling it out to see who has the product offering most favored by the consumer".
        The fact is, the general public barely bought into EITHER HD-DVD or Blu-Ray disc. They're still buying regular old DVDs!

        This was merely a case of some businesses getting behind a potential future "standard" for a media format, while others went with another concept. 95%+ of the public rejected BOTH options as too costly
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695)
      Free-market is not without its troubles, but its still a far better solution then letting the 'state' run things.
      • Re:free market? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Captain Splendid (673276) * <capsplendid@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:26PM (#22520680) Homepage Journal
        the 'state'

        It's spelled 'we, the people', dumbass. The 'problem', such as it is, isn't the system, but your particularly shitty implementation of it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nurb432 (527695)
          In a perfect world, yes 'the state' would be 'the people'. However, we don't live in a perfect world by any stretch of the imagination. Any form of government by its very nature degenerates, regardless of its so called 'implementation'.
        • Re:free market? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:48PM (#22520994) Journal

          the 'state'

          It's spelled 'we, the people', dumbass. The 'problem', such as it is, isn't the system, but your particularly shitty implementation of it.

          ...shitty implementation of which system?

          We got to see at least three major (and differing) implementations of Marx' setup. The number of deaths from it climbs up into the hundreds of millions, all told, and in places like North Korea, still climbing at horrific rate. Problem is, too many people are eager to claim their actions in the name of "the people", but the reality ends up being just the opposite. I think the USSR lasted approximately three years before it stopped being about "the people" and started being about "the state" (and yes, there is a distinction).

          Capitalism (as practiced) isn't exactly a perfect system either (far, far from it). Quite frankly, it can outright suck at times. OTOH, it does have a tendency to keep its body counts down to a much more acceptable level.

          Socialism? Cool... now who gets to fund it all when the majority of a populace figures out that they can do just fine without actually having to work for what they get? Ayn Rand may have been a nut case, but she does have a point - even economics has an ecosystem that requires each part of it to function well enough to survive. Humans are too damned lazy in nature to be eager about providing excessively for others in a system where they objectively don't have to.

          Now here's the weak link in your arguments as per the free market... Collusion only works for as long as the people are willing to fund it. If not enough people buy Blu-Ray gear to justify the costs going into it, it eventually dies. If something freer, easier, and cheaper comes along (pick at least two) Last I checked, a lack of Blu-Ray gear won't prevent me from eating tonight, nor will that lack prevent me from drinking clean water, or having a nice warm environment in which to sleep tonight. This in turn leads to apathy among the larger population, which in turns leads to...

          ...fact is, the problem isn't the system per se - the problem is that too few people actually give a damn enough about forcing a change in the nastier incidents within it, at least not until the impact of any aspect affects them personally.

          /P

          • Re:free market? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday February 22, 2008 @06:22PM (#22521508) Homepage
            We got to see at least three major (and differing) implementations of Marx' setup.

            I hate to break it to you, but no, we didn't. Last I checked, Marx wasn't a big advocate for totalitarianism.
          • Re:free market? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by DrSkwid (118965) on Friday February 22, 2008 @06:24PM (#22521542) Homepage Journal
            > it does have a tendency to keep its body counts down to a much more acceptable level.

            Or rather, it confined it's holocausts to the 18th & 19th century

            they'll be back

            • Re:free market? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday February 22, 2008 @08:50PM (#22523074) Journal

              Or rather, it confined it's holocausts to the 18th & 19th century

              I wouldn't be so sure... Mao managed to wipe out (roughly) 100+ million of his own people during the "Great Leap Forward"... over 10% (at the time) of China's entire population. The USSR comes in at a somewhat close second, and only had a peak population of ~300m during the 1980's. I'd have to go dredging numbers (population vs. deaths during a given Purge or Gulag expansion period, and esp. during the starvations in the Ukraine), but I'm fairly willing to wager that as a percentage of the whole, it was a whole lot safer (odds-wise) to live in 18th/19th century England than it was to live in 20th Century Russia.

              It's one thing to get killed due to willingly working under unsafe conditions and the like. It's another entirely to get executed or sent to die in a slave labor camp, just because the neighbor down the street reported you as a 'counter-revolutionary' to the local authorities. You're still perfectly free to walk away from the latter situation with at least a reasonable chance at continued survival...

              Now as to whether or not free and open Capitalism would ever get to the point where millions are killed off due to malice on the part of those at the top of said system? Remains to be seen. OTOH, it's a lot harder to pull off than if you were in, say, Stalin's boots...

              /P

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by DragonWriter (970822)

            We got to see at least three major (and differing) implementations of Marx' setup.

            Well, no. What are usually characterized as implementations of Marx's setup are solely the various major derivatives of Lenin's setup, which replaced Marx's requirement for an advanced capitalist society with an active, politically mobilized, proletariat aware of and leading the restructuring of society with a narrow activist elite vanguard leading in the name of the proletariat as a shortcut, because there was no prospect of

      • Re:free market? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sciros (986030) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:41PM (#22520876) Journal
        Without some regulation, what happens is the gap between the haves and the have-nots increases even further. This isn't good for the economy of a country as a whole, by the way.

        There's nothing insightful about your post; it's typical anarchist rhetoric, bound to no historical precedent or foresight.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by OakLEE (91103)
          I think there is a general misunderstanding of the wealth gap and its significance. The fact that there is a widening gap is not bad per se. The decade of the 1990s saw one of the largest post-WWII increases in the wealth gap any, yet I'm pretty sure most people here that was a pretty bitchin' time.

          The key lies not in the existence of the gap, but the reason for its existence. Increases in the wealth gap are totally immaterial if they are accompanied by a general rise societal welfare. For example, if t
      • Re:free market? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday February 22, 2008 @06:30PM (#22521634)

        Free-market is not without its troubles, but its still a far better solution then letting the 'state' run things.


        That's a nice bit of ideology; in practice, the policies sold as "free market" amount to letting a narrow group, backed by the coercive power of public institutions acting to protect their narrow interests under the flag of "property rights", etc. This is especially true of "deregulation" efforts, which usually are, in fact, efforts which recast regulations into the form preferred by the leading firms in the regulated industry, and serve largely to protect them from competition and protect and reinforce their dominant position.

        There is a reason that the biggest advocates of so-called "free market" policies are exactly the people that the theorist to whom "free market" advocates like to pay lip service, Adam Smith, warned must always be particularly distrusted when advocating policies because they can be counted on to do so out of narrow interests that will almost invariably be opposed to the public interest, organizations of merchants and manufacturers in particular industries.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by phoenix321 (734987) *
        Now imagine a state-run bureaucracy had to develop an optical storage medium. Just. Imagine.

        Ideas for the state-sponsored requirements:
        - archival grade 100 years at room temperature
        - compatible with all existing hardware sitting *somewhere* in the offices in some backwater county office
        - mil-spec version available and compatible with all other equipment
        - export restriction to everywhere outside North America.
        - support for people with all kinds of disabilities including but not limited to complete acephalia
    • Re:free market? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hal2814 (725639) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:44PM (#22520928)
      Why? Sony made a smart business move wooing their competitor's biggest supporter with money. Toshiba lost out but if WB was the only thing keeping them alive, then it wasn't like their planning was exactly stellar. They deserved to lose at that point. WB doesn't care one way or another as long as their content sells. They don't really have a horse in this race even though they've acted like it. They could easily abandon BluRay tomorrow. The only party that didn't get what they wanted out of this deal was relying on another company's non-binding agreement to keep their entire product line alive. If you're that upset about it, then feel free to release your content on some other format. The free market lets you do that.
  • Yeah right. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:04PM (#22520352)
    Next they'll be saying Sony would put rootkits on CDs or something...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by kerohazel (913211)
      Of course not. They'll put UNCRACKABLE rootkits on Blu-ray, and encode it with a 16-byte number that no one will ever figure out.
  • No more HD-DVD? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by esocid (946821) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:06PM (#22520368) Journal

    Third, the company sold Blu-ray to rival movie studios with the promise of superior digital copyright protection.
    There you go right there.
    1. Promise the movie companies that your formats are less prone to being pirated.
    2. ?
    3. Profit!
  • by milsoRgen (1016505) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:08PM (#22520388) Homepage
    I don't even think the market is ready for HD, we barely have downloads that offer DVD quality. The hardware feels a bit immature in my opinion, with perhaps the exception of the PS3. However my personal experiance with stand alone players comes to one thought, "Why the fuck am I waiting for my movie player to boot up?"

    Now call me when we have the bandwidth to stream HD, and we're not paying a premium for discs and when we all have large screen hi def tvs that actually can utilized the enhanced resolution.

    That being said, let Sony blow their wads.
    • by robizzle (975423) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:15PM (#22520528)
      I don't think the availability of high quality downloads should effect whether or not the market is ready for HD media. Instead, the limiting factor is the ubiquity of high def TVs in the household; there is no sense in getting a blue ray player if you have a 480 TV.

      Conversely, I think the lack of high quality downloads would actually spur increased demand for the delivery of high quality content though other means (in this case, HD discs.) If people have high def TVs, they are going to want high def content. If they can't get high def content from the internet, they will try to get it from high def media.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        Conversely, I think the lack of high quality downloads would actually spur increased demand for the delivery of high quality content though other means (in this case, HD discs.)

        And how is DVD-A doing in comparison to AACs from iTunes? In the music industry, people value convenience a huge amount more than quality (or, rather, fidelity). It will be interesting to see if the video industry is different. DVDs gave better quality and convenience than VHS and CDs gave better quality and convenience than analogue tapes. I can't think of a single instance where consumers have been forced to choose between the two and gone with quality.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I think the limiting factor is the limited intelligence of the end user combined with the ridiculous complexity of connecting and configuring everything. Long gone are the days when you plugged the coax into the back of your TV and that was it.

        "Hrm. Your cable box has a DVI port and the TV is HDMI. Best Buy will charge you $100 for that cable. Let's order it online for $15 and use component for now. Plug the component video output of the cable box into the component input of your TV. No, that's compos
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PCM2 (4486)
      It's definitely a few years away. The stereo industry always loves to soak the "hi-fi" consumer; but meanwhile, mainstream consumers have been going nuts over MP3s, which generally have lower sound quality than CDs.

      But remember, the industry holds the strings. All they have to do is start releasing new movies on Blu-Ray before they release them on DVD, and DVD dies sooner or later. Downloading DVD images that have been reformatted to 4.7GB with DVDShrink is one thing. Downloading DVD images of movie that yo
    • by edwardpickman (965122) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:25PM (#22520672)
      Why is everything about download? The primary reason people download is for file sharing sites so some how I don't think Sony is bemoaning loosing that business. I'm old enough to have spent my whole childhood preVHS. The early Betamaxs hit in my late teens but only recorded an hour and there were no prerecorded tapes. We didn't have cable in my area so unless you saw a movie the first week or so of it's release you had to hope for a cut down TV version of the film. I find it amazing how spoiled people have become in a little over a generation. Technology just isn't moving fast enough to suit their own personal needs. A hundred years ago most people still rode horses or walked, there was no radio and TV was decades away. Even movies were a rare treat and they were all shorts. These days if they can't get HD video beamed directly to their iPods they think we're still in the stone age. BluRay was never meant as a download format. Apples and oranges. When transfer rates get up to the point of supporting HiDef downloads I'm sure there will be yet another format. You might as well complain about not being able to download Hi8 movies. It was never intended as a download format.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by _xeno_ (155264)

        Well, I know a lot of people with laptops that have displays capable of at least 720p. Sound quality may not be great, but they can show a high-def movie in an honestly OK quality.

        I don't know quite so many people that own HDTVs. (Actually, I haven't asked in most cases, so I could be underestimating, but you get the idea.)

        The penetration rate for something that can display a high-def movie via download is much higher than HDTVs. Granted the experience won't be as great, but it's a place to start. Once

    • by morari (1080535) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:47PM (#22520978) Journal
      I wish we could stop hearing about streaming video. I like having my content conveniently on actual media that I can access instantly whenever I want without having to go through or ask anyone else. Most of the world doesn't even have broadband at all, which I think is a far more important problem than people not being able to download and redownload gigantic movie files because they've never heard of a disc binder.
  • Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blhack (921171) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:09PM (#22520408)
    Has anyone considered the remote possibility that Blu-Ray won out because it was the better of the two formats? It stores more data. From an end user perspective, isn't this pretty much the #1 thing that matters?

    Granted, geeks know that the DRM on blu-ray is harsher than that on HD-DVD, but if your just joe Movie Watcher does it really matter?

    Just a thought.
    • Re:Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:15PM (#22520524)
      No, nobody has considered that because it's meaningless - especially to Joe Movie Watcher. Both HDDVD and BluRay have more than enough space to provide existing movie content. Look at most HDDVDs, there's usually quite a bit of free space even with extras etc...

      HDDVD also had a path to higher capacities. From a movie-watcher's perspective, BluRay has absolutely 0 technical advantages. In terms of a storage medium it has some advantage, but not one HDDVD couldn't have matched easily enough.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by blhack (921171)

        No, nobody has considered that because it's meaningless - especially to Joe Movie Watcher. Both HDDVD and BluRay have more than enough space to provide existing movie content. Look at most HDDVDs, there's usually quite a bit of free space even with extras etc...

        Well, yeah, there is enough space on there for the current model we have for watching, but what if we change the model? What if instead of a season of television spanning 4 DVDs it just spans 1 blu-ray disk and is all in 1080p?
        If you're at best buy, and you ask the sales guy the difference between Blu Ray and HD DVD, what is he going to tell you that is relevant to your inerests?
        Is the DRM model on each relevant? Well, if you need to talk to a sales guy at best buy, then chances are you don't even know w

        • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:28PM (#22520712)
          Nah, I don't buy it. It was all about politics and business, not technical merit. HDDVD could have scaled capacity easily, and in fact already had. This just came down to Sony being better at playing the game.
        • Re:Or... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Bigboote66 (166717) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:43PM (#22520908)
          The model doesn't need changing. The current model is that a disk holds enough content based on the amount of time people are willing to sit on their fat asses. You're going to take a break to stretch your legs or go to the bathroom. You may as well change a disk while you're at it. Content that lasts over 4 hours is so uncommon as to be irrelevant to the issue.

          I don't see a real compelling reason for something to be able to play 8 hours of uninterrupted content for the home market. Those that need that kind of play time are a insignificant minority. The only reason for increased capacity would be when the move comes to the next higher resolution format, which will involve new hardware anyway.

          -BbT
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by blhack (921171)
            You assume anybody watching clips on a DVD wants to do so linearly. What if i want episode 1 of family guy from season 6, then episode 8?
      • Re:Or... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by powerlord (28156) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:26PM (#22520684) Journal

        From a movie-watcher's perspective, BluRay has absolutely 0 technical advantages.


        Not entirely true. It had at least ONE major advantage, less market confusion with DVD.

        I've seen at least two instances personally (not counting the numerous anecdotes mention here on slashdot :) ) where consumers were confused that they needed a new player to watch HD DVD discs, since they owned a DVD player and an HD TV.

        With Blu-Ray, there was much more of an instinctual "This is a new format that needs a new player".

        I'd also wonder if Blu-Ray's choice of using Blue for their media vs HD DVD's Red made a difference from a psychological point of view. Most people associate Red with Danger, while Blue is usually associated with Calmness.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ironwill96 (736883)
      I don't really think Blu-Ray was a better format in any real sense. Yes, initially it had 5-10GB more space allowed, but Toshiba figured out how to top 50GB using HD-DVD discs as the technology got more mature. Also, HD-DVD players and discs were cheaper to produce as far as I can tell, and the HD-DVD spec was finalized long before Blu-Ray's was. This resulted in Blu-Ray players being released that only supported the 1.0 spec and could NOT be upgraded. Basically when all the fancy Blu-Rays come out a co
      • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by evilviper (135110) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:32PM (#22520770) Journal

        but Toshiba figured out how to top 50GB using HD-DVD discs as the technology got more mature.

        3-layer HD DVDs was just a PR stunt. None were ever produced, and I'm willing to bet that none of the existing HD DVD players could read them, so it might just as well have been a new format that nobody would have adopted.

        Sony demonstrated much, much higher numbers of layers on Blu Ray discs as well.
    • Re:Or... (Score:5, Informative)

      by PrvtBurrito (557287) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:21PM (#22520606)
      Uh, HD-DVD's are: 1) region free 2) not a rushed to market technology (no customer screwing profile x.x limitations) 3) half the price 4) has more interactive features in contrast blu-ray store more space. Are you guys that obtuse?
      • Re:Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dreamt (14798) on Friday February 22, 2008 @06:11PM (#22521356)
        The price thing was artificial. It was because Toshiba, the only (real) HD-DVD manufacturer cut prices and was taking huge losses on selling the things. The prices on BluRay will come down naturally as technology improves and because of real competition between hardware vendors.
    • Umm... no. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Almost no one cares about which format is "better", only which one will become the popular one that everybody supports (network effect). And most people don't even care about that, having no need or desire for higher resolutions than DVD already provides. Face it, HD is still niche technology that fewer than 10% of households are equipped to take advantage of (with multi-thousand-dollar HDTVs and multi-hundred-dollar players, etc).

      Most people simply don't care. And the two formats were neck-and-neck for
    • by GuyverDH (232921)
      Blu-Ray was different.. I'll give you that much...

      Better? No... Won't go that far.
      The fact that it uses DRM at all makes it lose at least 90 out of 100 points on scale of usability.
      The fact that early adopters are out however much they spent on players that cannot be upgraded to watch current rev media, drops another 90 out of 100 points.

      Right now, we're at -80 out of 100 points on usability scale.

      Next we have media costs. blu-ray media costs more to manufacture, therefore raises purchase price. Drop an
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BrerBear (8338)

        Blu-Ray was different.. I'll give you that much...
        Better? No... Won't go that far.
        The fact that it uses DRM at all makes it lose at least 90 out of 100 points on scale of usability.

        Wow, the last 10 years of DVD must have been rough on you, seeing as DVDs have DRM.

        The fact that early adopters are out however much they spent on players that cannot be upgraded to watch current rev media, drops another 90 out of 100 points.

        Original profile 1.0 Blu-ray players can watch all movies and all special features on current and future discs, except for picture in picture. Kinda like how original DVD players didn't have access to all current DVD player features, and how my DVD players can't play the "enhanced multimedia content" that requires a PC drive. Curses!

        Next we have media costs. blu-ray media costs more to manufacture, therefore raises purchase price. Drop another 50 points.

        Strange that the extra few pennies per disk (and dropping) hasn't lead to Blu-ray discs cos

    • Has anyone considered the remote possibility that Blu-Ray won out because it was the better of the two formats? It stores more data. From an end user perspective, isn't this pretty much the #1 thing that matters?

      Not really. Your average end user doesn't know anything about the amount of data storage available on a disc unless the sales person used it in the sales pitch. They know about as much about disc capacity as they do about DRM.

      Assuming the above to be true (my personal anecdotal evidence seems to suggest it is), from an end user's perspective who DOES understand DRM effects AND storage capacities, there was no clear winner. HD-DVD had less restrictive DRM, and a bit less potential capacity. It's also wort

    • The DRM is a non issue. Blu-Ray and HD-DVD DRM was sidestepped last year. Simple 1 button ripping has been available for a while now.

      The only thing Blu-Ray had going for it was its data density. I would hardly call it a supperior format when it costs 2-3x as much for the media and the hardware.

    • Re:Or... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by evilviper (135110) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:35PM (#22520824) Journal

      It stores more data. From an end user perspective, isn't this pretty much the #1 thing that matters?

      No, I'd say capacity was the #2 thing that mattered.

      #1 was: Blu-Ray discs don't get scratched.

      Granted, geeks know that the DRM on blu-ray is harsher than that on HD-DVD,

      "Geeks" here on /. "know" a lot of things that aren't true...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mmcguigan (677816)

        #1 was: Blu-Ray discs don't get scratched.

        Blu-ray discs do scratch and it is debatable whether the harder surface of the Blu-ray disc is a benefit to the consumer.

        HD-DVD media is made of the same material used in standard DVD media. It is pretty cheap and easy for the average person to resurface a DVD. When a Blu-ray disc does get scratched, it is far more difficult to fix. If you try to use a DVD-doctor on a Blu-ray disc it doesn't help. The only fix I've heard for a scratched BD is to trash it and purchase a new one.

        Does anyone know of a chea

  • by bconway (63464) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:09PM (#22520410) Homepage
    What remains a mystery is just how big a push Warner needed to pick sides. Analysts say Sony only prevailed following a heated bidding war against Toshiba, with the reward reaching as much as $400-million (U.S.). Neither side has confirmed the size of any bids or payments.

    Other than analysts' speculation of payoffs, there's nothing that could be considered fact in this article. Pass.
  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:09PM (#22520412)
    A couple points:

    (1) The betamax people like to claim that betamax was "better" than VHS. This is simply not true. It had some features that were better than VHS, but VHS had features that were better than Betamax. It all came down to the fact that VHS was cheaper and allowed for longer record times.

    (2) The amount of money Sony just sent is proof that Blue-Ray sucks.
    • by eviloverlordx (99809) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:23PM (#22520636)
      (2) The amount of money Sony just sent is proof that Blue-Ray sucks.

      BS.

      The HD-DVD camp did the very same thing, yet where is the moral outrage? Hypocrisy is alive and well on /.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Malc (1751)
      (2) The amount of money Sony just sent is proof that Blue-Ray sucks.

      1) It's "Blu-ray".

      2) Paramount were paid $150M to switch to HD DVD only. Based on the number of titles being put out (or market share), Paramount were paid far more relatively than this rumoured amount for Warner.
  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:10PM (#22520428)
    VHS had longer recording times, and that is what the customers wanted. This is proved by the fact that VHS "won", and ergo VHS was "better". Betamax did have better video quality, but it was not "better" in every dimension.
    • by provigilman (1044114) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:14PM (#22520504) Homepage Journal
      Well, that, and VHS had porn.
      • by Dunbal (464142)
        Well, that, and VHS had porn.

              Betamax had porn too. My dad's collection was all betamax... uhh, don't ask me how I know.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by thtrgremlin (1158085)
        This really seems to be the common theory across the web (and theory like theory of gravity). Sony had a great format that was higher quality, and more compact... but they wanted to be big brother. "We got the big movie format, so we're going to 'fix' the morality of the world". Sony with BetaMax, and originally with Blu-Ray, they said "no porn on OUR format"... but they didn't really consider that despite how much people may talk about loving their favorite big screen movie, there is a market for porn flic
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:18PM (#22520558)
    The article does not say that Sony paid Warner $400 million. It merely states that there was a bidding war between Sony and Toshiba and that unnamed "analysts" have suggested that payout may have been "as much as $400 million", though no one who knows anything is saying anything. Actually, the summary could have been good with a small change:

    Is $400 million too much? Sony didn't think so and this article speculates that's how they won the Hi-Def format war.


    Should read:

    Is $400 million too much? This article speculates that Sony may not have thought so and goes on to speculate that's how they won the Hi-Def format war.


    Really, other than the really obvious things we all know (Sony won the format war), there aren't any facts in the article, just speculation and some rather weird ideas from a variety of sources. Like Professor Xavier Dreze and his suggestion that "PlayStation buyers ... unwittingly embraced Blu-ray and undermined HD DVD." As if PS3 buyers were shelling out the high price of the console without realizing that it was a Blu-ray player, and just started purchasing Blu-ray discs without any consciousness of their actions. To the extent that PS3 owners embraced Blu-ray at all, they didn't do it "unwittingly".
    • by vux984 (928602) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:27PM (#22520698)
      As if PS3 buyers were shelling out the high price of the console without realizing that it was a Blu-ray player, and just started purchasing Blu-ray discs without any consciousness of their actions. To the extent that PS3 owners embraced Blu-ray at all, they didn't do it "unwittingly".

      Yes, they supported blu-ray over hddvd incidentally. Ie if the PS3 had been hddvd they would have bought it all the same. The market skew toward blu-ray by way of ps3 sales was NOT on blu-ray's merits over HDDVD, it was simply by virtue of the fact that that is what the PS3 came with.

      Everyone picking a stand alone player had to agonize over whether to go bluray or hddvd.

      If the PS3 had somehow been available in two flavors ... one blu-ray and one HDDVD and customers were actually selecting the hi-def format they were going to gamble on you could argue they were 'wittingly' involved in the choice, but as it stands, no, they were not.

      It came with hidef (which they wanted or at least saw value in), it happened to be bluray which they mostly didn't care about, so that's what they got. People buying a ps3 wanted a ps3 and took whatever hidef player it came with.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DragonWriter (970822)

        Yes, they supported blu-ray over hddvd incidentally. Ie if the PS3 had been hddvd they would have bought it all the same.

        "Incidentally" is not "unwittingly", though. I tend to agree that most probably did so "incidentally" (it may have been important to buyers that it was an HD player, but which format probably wasn't important), but "unwittingly" suggests that not merely unconcerned with the fact that buy buying the PS3 and media to play on it they were supporting Blu-ray, but unaware that they were doing

  • I mean, after "Never get involved in a land war in Asia" and "Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line", the most famous rule is "Never back Sony in a format war." And here they are, winning one!

    So yeah, throwing flagrant amounts of money at potential customers kinda changes the calculus a bit. Sony media format marketing without bribery* is like the getting the dog to play with the ugly kid without the steak tied around his neck.

    *Well, to be perfectly fair, Sony's 3.5" floppy diskette forma

  • $ony? (Score:5, Funny)

    by krazycraft (983109) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:20PM (#22520580)
    So we should starting calling them $ony?
  • Plus and Minus (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheSync (5291) * on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:42PM (#22520892) Journal
    VHS won the consumer war over Betamax, but Betacam [wikipedia.org] (that used the same tape cassette) went on to become the dominant professional video format.

    Now BluRay won the consumer war, but it is unclear if the professional disk version called XDCAM [wikipedia.org] will win the professional format, as pro video folks moving beyond tapes are also looking at flash-based systems like DVCPRO P2 [wikipedia.org] , and even Sony now offers professional XDCAM EX on SxS [wikipedia.org] flash memory.
  • Just Sony? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:43PM (#22520918) Homepage Journal
    A lot of people don't realize that Blu-Ray is more than just Sony, there are three levels of membership in the Blu-Ray Association. Currently there are 18 board members (top level), 65 contributers, and over 200 members. Sony is the obvious front company for the association because of their reliance on the technology for the PlayStation 3, but there are a lot of groups that have a big stake in the project too.

    Maybe Sony did pay Warner the big bucks for the commitment, but I'd be surprised if they're the only ones making deals like this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blu-ray_Disc_Association [wikipedia.org]
    • I hate that point. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hudsonhawk (148194) on Friday February 22, 2008 @06:33PM (#22521664)
      Every time there's an article about Blu-Ray someone always trots out the point that Blu-ray is not, in fact, Sony's, but is actually from a larger group of manufacturers and media companies.

      Well, yes, there are a lot of members, but Blu-ray is still Sony's. They not only have the most invested in Blu-ray, they have the most to gain:

      1) They developed the hardware platform entirely on their own and gain royalties from the format's sales
      2) The success or failure of their gaming console is tied inexorably to the success or failure of the format
      3) The decision to splinter off from the DVD Consortium, following the DVD Consortium's choice of HD-DVD as the next format (supposedly chosen because it would be ready sooner), was entirely theirs. Broader industry support came after that decision, and was reportedly driven by studio fear of Microsoft. Without Sony, there's no format war.

      There's a very very good reason that people associate this format with Sony - it's their format, it's just supported by other people. Lots of people support the CD format but that doesn't make it any less Sony / Phillips' format.
  • by guidryp (702488) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:49PM (#22521004)
    Ummm old and unsubstantiated/busted rumor:

    The Original source is Dan Lindich, he has since edited the story to remove all references to money changing hands. Read some of his blog, he hates Blu-Ray with a passion and has always recommended HD-DVD, still doesn't recommend Blu-ray, even it won the format war, here is his now eidited story:
    http://www.soundadviceblog.com/?p=758 [soundadviceblog.com]

    From Digital bits:
    "As it happens, I've actually spoken about this today with Fox's senior VP of corporate and marketing communications, Steve Feldstein, who echoed something Warner's Ron Sanders has also said in recent days: "The kind of money they're talking about [in these stories] isn't worth jeopardizing a multi-billion dollar business." In other words, payoffs would not have impacted Fox and Warner's decisions. Feldstein also told me that when The Pittsburgh Post Gazette piece broke, he contacted Lindich immediately to let him know that he was being misled by someone. When Don posted the same piece on his own blog, it was edited to reflect this. Specifically, the references to $120 million and $500 million payoffs were gone - something that's worthy of note."
    http://www.thedigitalbits.com/mytwocentsa149.html [thedigitalbits.com]

    Basically bitter Fan can't see writing on wall, sees conspiracy instead.

    The facts were Blu Ray disks outsold HD-DVD disks for every single week of 2007, by the last weeks of 2007 there were more standalone Blu Ray players sold than HD-DVD players sold, despite HD-DVD being massively cheaper. HD-DVD was toast before Warner announced.

    Slashdot, all the quality of Digg, without the quantity.
  • by YojimboJango (978350) on Friday February 22, 2008 @05:50PM (#22521014)
    I wonder if Nintendo and Microsoft see the opportunity for a semi-proprietary disc format here. They've got a stable and cheap format that's already gone through all it's development phases and is proven to hold 50 gigs. Five years from now getting a hold of a consumer level HD-DVD burner will be a real rarity, so piracy would be really hard. Blue-Ray may have won the movie format war, but there's still a lot of potential in this format by virtue of it's soon to be obscurity.
  • by graymocker (753063) on Friday February 22, 2008 @06:11PM (#22521346)

    Even if this specific rumor turns out to be false, the broader implication that Sony was willing to sacrifice to ensure the success of Blu-Ray is undeniable. For a while Sony's use of a Blu-Ray player in PS3s was considered a blunder. The fact is, Blu-Ray is more important to Sony than the PS3 was. If coming in behind their competitors in this video game generation is what it cost to make Blu-Ray the HD standard, Sony is perfectly happy with that. Of course, there remains the possibility that Blu-Ray will turn out to be a competitive advantage for the PS3, in which case it would be so much the better. The point is, from Sony's perspective, it didn't matter if the Blu-Ray turns out to be good for the PS3 or not, because they consider it a win either way. If it is, they're obviously happy, but even if it isn't, they're still happy because they still win by massively inflating Blu-Ray's install base. For Sony, Blu Ray>PS3.

    In contrast, to MS the 360 was a much higher priority than Toshiba's HD-DVD. MS has been trying to get into our living rooms for over 10 years now. (Bill Gates was already obsessing about it in The Road Ahead and that book was written 13 years ago.) All things being equal they'd prefer Toshiba to win and Sony to lose, of course, but it wasn't important enough to them for them to risk 360's success on.

  • Welcome to Sony (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nsanders (208050) on Friday February 22, 2008 @06:11PM (#22521362) Homepage
    I used to work for an unnamed Pro Audio company that was licensed by Sony to push DSD/SACD & A-TRAC products out the door. Sony pays vendors to create products for their technology so that the end consumer will make the assumption that if the vendors are making product, it must be a good technology. I can't say I'm surprised one bit by this move from Sony.
  • Total Speculation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by feepness (543479) on Friday February 22, 2008 @06:49PM (#22521886) Homepage
    From the article:

    Neither side has confirmed the size of any bids or payments.
    It's not like Warner or Sony would be able to keep the payment off their books. These are completely unsubstantiated sour-grapes rumors.
  • by heroine (1220) on Friday February 22, 2008 @07:34PM (#22522396) Homepage
    Only 4 Euros.

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