Posted by Martin:
In my last post about NPR's report on the Blu-Ray gains in the market I got a comment about broadband downloads being the real future and that the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray war is pointless.
Here is why I disagree with that idea.
Looking at iTunes as a comparison DRM is a true pain in the butt to the customer. I own an ipod and buy music off of itunes sometimes. But it is a true pain that I can't copy my library to another computer or another ipod. In order to share music my friends and family have to listen physically to my ipod.
In terms of video, think of our current DVRs. If I have recorded an HD broadcast of Star Wars that would be awesome. But can I bring that movie to a party at another house, or put it on a laptop? As of right now, nope. If I download an HD movie it stays there in my DVR. There is no sharing. Unless of course I disconnect my DVR from my home theater, pack it in my car, and install it in my friends theater. So much fun!
2. Broadband reach
I have broadband and a lot of people do, but it maybe a surprise but not everyone in this country lives in a city or suburb with broadband access. My own parents being an example, they bought their retirement home off in the mountains, and my father has a nice 55 inch Sony HDTV. Downloads through satellite would be the only option. Downloads through an Xbox or PS3 would not be an option.
Currently Blu-Ray and disc media have a higher bit rate of info than does a broadcast through cable. There is a reason why TV shows look better on DVD. Some people believe that over the air HD broadcasts look better than cable or satellite broadcasts because there is less compression in over the air. Same idea applies when comparing disc media verses downloads.
50 GB would take HOURS, if not a couple days in some cases to download. It would honestly be quicker to drive down the road to Blockbuster pick up a disc and drive back home, than it would be to download a movie.
Right now when we watch HD movies on TV we get no cool extras. No commentaries, no featurettes, no nothing. Wasn't that part of the DVD revolution? To me having a movie system without extras is big step backwards.
5. No one format of downloads
DRM makes for more formats than Blu-Ray verses HD-DVD. Take a current look at video. iTunes, Amazon unBox, Netflix, Zune, and so on and so on...
I would have The Godfather from iTunes, Psycho from UnBox, so my collection could quite possibly be spread out over several different programs and formats. IWhy would I do this to myself to just say I downloaded these movies?
6. Getting Broadband video onto your TV
A lot of us have spent a lot money on a home theater. Plasma, DLP, THX receiver, Polk speakers, and now I'm supposed to watch my HD movies on my computer, and four inch iPod screen? I don't think so.
Lastly, a lot of us like to collect things. When people come to visit us people inevitably check out my DVD shelf in my office and make comments and offer critiques and praises. Never had that happen with my iPod. I like taking time to put my collection in a certain order, genre, year, or by director. Yes, this point is emotional and not technical, but it is an important one. People still collect vinyl and CDs in a world of Napstar and iTunes.
Will downloads be big some day? Of course. Will they eliminate disc media? Maybe. In the next ten years? I don't think so. Broadband has to be expanded greatly for this to happen.
Having one type disc media is desired by customers. Having Blu-Ray with such incredible momentum is nothing but a good thing for HD movie lovers.
Focusing simply on downloads I believe is more a love for technology and not really about watching movies in the best way possible. True movie lovers care that their movies look great and beautiful, not necessarily about how it was delivered. Broadband just can't compete with discs yet on that point.