A one handed farce

Can you feel it. etc
Tip of the jimmy hat to Justin, aka the Last Man in Europe, who has posted some news so ignorant and absurd I had to read it twice. Sony has gone all moralistic and allegedly have refused to allow (or at least have complicated the availablity of) our old friend, the porno flick, on the format no-one needs yet: Blu-Ray. The High Def format war is completely retarded anyway (look at Super CD vs. DVD-Audio for an analogue) and frankly i have yet to understand how crap like ’50 First Dates’ ends up in High Def before early adopter look-at-my-new-kit favourites such as 2001 or Blade Runner.

Sony has learnt the wrong lessons from its own history and appears to be affected by hubris these days. Some commentators have suggested more exclusive content and studio backing means next year that it will pull away in the race. A race for a prize rather smaller than they assume, because:

-Most consumers have crap DVD players and TVs. On a more modern, progressive scan TV and DVD player setup DVD looks miles better than they are used to anyway.

-In PAL countries, you need to get bigger than 32 inches to see much difference (NTSC is an older, inferior standard).

-Consumer reaction to a format war is to wait and hedge bets.

-The difference between Hi Def and well presented DVD is much, much lower than VHS to DVD (or tape to CD for that matter).

-Online distro is the future for most content.

So the fight is for a smaller market than before.

Sony’s Betamax standard was far more superior to VHS than Blu-Ray could ever be to HD-DVD and still lost a format war, even when it was cheaper for much of its lifecycle. Sony’s conclusion was that it needed control of content to push its formats. This is true, and Betamax was also not widely licensed to other manufacturers. However, VHS had an even more important asset: Porn.

Sony did not like the idea of porn on their lovely family friendly format. Sony’s competitors made quite sure that plenty was available on VHS, realising that few consumers wanted to get stuck to the seats in some heavy breather dive rather than play a one string bass in the privacy of their own home. In a format war, you need as many reasons to get someone to choose you as possible and access to porn is one of the most powerful there is.

After the Bible, the next application for the 15th Century printing press was dodgy lithography. This has been true of nearly every technology no matter what anyone thinks of it. Perhaps Sony got confused between game consoles (which need to have licensed content to prevent all kinds of market destroying mischief) and a playback format. Philips did not care what people put on its era defining tapes.

Stupid, silly and arrogant. Sony needs to back off for its own good…Even though the thought of seeing implant scars, razor burns, spots and sweat with HD clarity is enough to make a sane man run for the hills.

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