11 Responses

  1. MegaZone
    MegaZone April 8, 2008 at 1:02 am |

    You know this will never happen, right? 馃檪

    Combo DVD/HD DVD was never pushed and was unpopular with studios for one huge reason – very low yields. The same thing killed DVD18 – which is pretty much the same thing physically. Even today DVD9 has slightly lower yields than DVD5. But when you start going to *two* data sides back to back, losses jump, and it is cheaper to press two DVD9s than one DVD18 – and it is cheaper to press an HD DVD and a DVD than to press one combo disc.

    On top of that, both studios and consumers dislike ‘flippy’ discs. Market research shows people dislike discs with data on both sides – they like their labels and not having to look at fine print in the spindle area to tell which side is which.

    And note that combo discs aren’t something only HD DVD had. The Blu-ray camp has specs for two different combo formats – one flippy, DVD on side, BD the other. (And Warner’s TotalHD format was the same thing, only substituting HD DVD for DVD.) The other is single-sided, with the BD layers ‘over’ the DVD layers. They can have a BD50 and a DVD9 on one side of the disc.

    But these never went beyond demos showing they *can* do it – because of the same issue, lower yields leading to higher costs. Studios just don’t perceive an advantage to combo discs to justify the higher costs. And consumers weren’t willing to pay more for the capability to offset the costs. I own 50-odd Blu-ray movies, and couldn’t care less about not having DVD. I want BD to cost *less* and would not be willing to pay more for DVD capability either.

    Studios aren’t going to back DVD 2.0 any more than they back HD VMD, because there is no real benefit to competition in the disc formats. And, actually, there are many drawbacks. The format war slowed adoption of BOTH formats – BD sales have accelerated since the end of the format war. And studios have ramped up release plans too. The end of the format war is a good thing for consumers. More movies and more competition for market share between studios will create more consumer choice. Media costs have actually been coming down since the end of the war too.

    Player costs for BD have held steady in MSRP terms. Some end pricing has increased, but that’s retailers doing more profit taking by reducing discounts. HD DVD players were only cheap because Toshiba was taking a huge red ink bath on each unit sold, and that was not sustainable. With the format ear over more CE vendors have announced entry into the BD player market, which will drive prices down. Just like DVD, you don’t need two formats to have competition. There is inter-vendor competition. (DIVX doesn’t count – it never offered any real competition to DVD.)

    If you really want competition and to drive prices down, then Toshiba needs to stop being such a martyr, suck it up, and release Blu-ray decks. They do good work, and they could fairly readily take their HD DVD designs and refocus them into competitive BD decks. But they’re letting pride keep them out of the market. Same with Microsoft – if they released a BD add-on for the 360 it would really heat up the market and competition. But they’re living in a fantasy world where downloads will take off in the near future and discs are dead.

    The end of the format war is good for consumers. It will speed up market growth, and just like DVD the larger the market the lower units costs will be and the less we’ll all pay for our players and movies.

    And the DVD 2.0 concept you suggest is one rejected by all camps in the early days of the war – before there was HD DVD vs. BD. One of the proposals, largely pushed by Warner, was a red laser disc using advanced codecs. But the quality would be much like HD downloads – massively over-compressed. You just can’t fit HD content, even 720p, in 8.5GB without highly compressing it. (Downloads can be worse – sometimes 4GB.) Warner did get it included in the HD DVD spec – 3X DVD is basically this. HD DVD content on a DVD9 – but Blu-ray did it too, BD9 is BD content on a DVD9. And BD9 is actually more widely supported – a number of camcorders record in AVCHD to DVD in a format compatible with BD9 so they’re playable on BD decks. I don’t know of any that used 3X DVD.

    Perhaps the BDA could adopt HDi as a second interactive system for BD, but at this point they have little incentive to do so. BD-J tools are improving, so the early complaints about complexity are fading. And since all the major studios are now working in BD-J, they too have little incentive to work in HDi as well. And BD-J is more powerful than HDi, capable of more advanced interactive content. HDi was designed to be decently powerful but simpler to use, while BD-J was harder to use but more powerful. But since BD-J is based on international standards with a huge installed base (GEM/MHP), there is actually a lot of experience out their with the fundamentals. (And OCAP is in the same family.)

    You can’t squeeze most full length movies into a DVD5 without them looking like crap – I know, I own a number of early DVD5 releases that look like crap. 馃檪 That’s why DVD9 is the norm, even though DVD5 is cheaper to make (higher yields). If they could, they would be doing it already. And the studios aren’t going to piss off the vast install base by doing it just to make room for some new gimmick on the other layer – if you’re going to strong-arm people into buying another format then they’d just go buy Blu-ray since it would provide a better experience than the ‘new’ DVD kludge. So you’d be back to flippies – and bsck to lower yields, higher costs, and consumer dissatisfaction.

    If they managed to put the three-layer disc into production, maybe they could do two DVD layers and one ‘DVD 2.0’ layer. But how much could that one layer hold? Using blue laser they got 17GB on one HD DVD-TL layer. But if you use blue laser, then your costs soar. With the advances made in the past ten years you can certainly store more than 4.7GB on one layer with red laser – but how much? Maybe 10GB? I don’t know – you can tighten the spiral, use a bit more of the disc surface, and tighten the pit spacing, but you still run into physical limits from the red wavelengths.

    Nope, in the end DVD is dead. What we have now is it. And that’s not bad for the consumer. The format war did not one thing to improve either format. You might argue that BD’s profile improvements count – but those were set out before the format launch and the war started, so they weren’t due to the war itself. DVD Video has changed very little since it launched. The only big change was the addition of DTS early on due to a lawsuit.

    Formats like these tend to be fairly fixed. Even BD’s profile 1.1 and 2.0 are backwards compatible with 1.0. Any real new capabilities will probably come from downloadable additional content now, not on the discs themselves.

    Consumers will benefit from increased adoption of BD through the influx of additional hardware vendors, the influx of additional studios (especially the smaller players who were sitting out the war), and the increased volumes of releases from the majors now that they don’t have to worry about backing the wrong horse. Additionally consumers will benefit from the increase in investment in production lines, which will create supply-side competition, driving down production costs – which will allow consumer pricing to drop.

    In many ways the format war artificially restrained competition, perhaps more than it created it. The market will be larger and more vibrant with HD DVD gone than it was with the war in full swing.

  2. Humberto Saabedra
    Humberto Saabedra April 8, 2008 at 10:20 am |

    You also forgot to take into acount that the DVD Forum can’t go back and add provisions to the DVD spec for HD, otherwise player prices would shoot back up from the $50 average back into the $150 range thanks to the addition of decoders for the more advanced formats as well as revised laser pickups for the new discs.

    HD-DVD was developed as an evolution to DVD in order to avoid the headaches of combo discs or multiple layers on standard DVDs, and yet it still managed to fail because studios don’t like to compromise on anything regarding content, consumers wern’t interested in repeating VHS/Beta, and the players were too cheap.

    I can see where the old market ideas regarding competition would lead ou to believe that the HD-DVD/Blu-Ray format war was good for the consumer in terms of subsidies for players and media on both sides, but the reality is that model was already attempted by Sony during the VHS/Betamax era, and it failed miserably as a consumer product, but flourished as a broadcast standard.

    Toshiba would be better off repurposing HD-DVD as an evolution of DVD-ROM.

  3. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price April 8, 2008 at 4:10 pm |

    A superset of DVD would increase player cost, true, but retaining backwards compatibility as a mandate is the point. Existing DVD users wouldn’t have to upgrade… they could do so when costs come down on a 2.0-spec player.

    Users knowing they will have that option will keep them from going to Blu-Ray. The market research on Combo DVD + HD DVD proved that all too late.

    I wouldn’t have published this if I didn’t think it wasn’t a viable option for the Forum. Re-branding HD DVD wouldn’t fly (for obvious reasons of negative publicity), but taking the tenants of HD DVD and integrating them into a new spec will. Making that spec compatible with HD DVD is another option.

    Blu-Ray is really shooting itself in the foot in terms of adoption. I refuse to buy two copies of the same movie, and with DMCA laws in their present state… that’s what the Blu-Ray consortium wants right now. I have to buy a Blu-Ray disc for at home, and a DVD for on the go. That is something both high-end consumers and low-end consumers will resist tooth-and-nail.

    There are hundreds of millions of people in the United States with the same opinion. That’s why Blu-Ray still has to tackle DVD… and that’s why DVD has room to fight back in the HD scheme.

    As to HDi, it’s not speculation on my part, the Forum is already working on a spec to integrate it. Check on WG-12 for more info.

    For consumers, and I mean the un-savvy, un-videophile consumers, Blu-Ray’s pitiful managed copy solution still doesn’t let them take movies on the road… unless they buy new player devices.

    MegaZone brought up yields, and it’s an interesting aspect of the discussion. I would hope that with the amount of money that Toshiba has invested in HD DVD, and with the amount it is investing in CH DVD, that the yield aspect would improve for a DVD 2.0, based on the work already accomplished.

    Consumers never benefit from a monopoly. VHS had terrible quality for a decade, and we call that a win? Thankfully, there is DVD, and until Blu-Ray tackles it… the majority of their growth will be in a single product, PlayStation 3.

    Now, I would suggest to Blu-Ray to embrace combo DVD and Blu-Ray discs, or bundling to include both a DVD and BD in a single set without significant price increases.

    And to the publishers, I would use myself as a perfect case study. I don’t buy DVD’s because they aren’t in HD. I don’t buy Blu-Ray because they aren’t backwards-compatible. So, aside from a fire sale on HD DVD, I haven’t bought any movies in awhile. I’d like to, but I won’t. Millions upon millions of Americans are in the same boat.

  4. Humberto Saabedra
    Humberto Saabedra April 8, 2008 at 5:25 pm |

    You remember that format known as LaserDisc right?

    Its also the only format to have every major Hollywood release available since the 1980s despite the low adoption numbers in the US.

    VHS was never the sole option for home video, but it was the most common thanks to its low price and ubiquity.

    DVD is now in the same boat as VHS is regarding price and ubiquity and the prior hurdle of recording that prevented people from jumping ship to DVD way back in the late 90s is now as common as 8 hour blank VHS tapes were.

    You’re kidding yourself if you think millions of Americans buy DVDs. Fact is, major releases break below 100,000 sold and niche releases sell between 5,000-10,000 copies.

    The only reason consumers are buying less DVDs is because of less discretionary income and other priorities, not because of the transition to HD.

    Anime distributors and publishers in Japan are already doing what you suggest in terms of bundling DVD and Blu-Ray discs together, with mixed results.

    Ultimately the fact that few people wanted combo discs means we’ll keep seeing the current publishing trend until player costs start to decrease.

  5. MegaZone
    MegaZone April 8, 2008 at 6:47 pm |

    DVD 2.0 won’t happen – who will make the players? Toshiba? Their stock holders would murder them for backing ANOTHER ‘advanced DVD’ spec against BD after the HD DVD fiasco. All the other major vendors are already backing BD and have a vested interest in NOT backing a competitor. I’m not so sure CH-DVD will really take hold, the BDA is already working with China to add the Chinese codecs to Blu-ray *and* talking about making them part of the global standard, not a ghetto standard like CH-DVD. The Chinese seems to be tempted by that.

    Any DVD 2.0 spec would need to be *at least as good* as DVD9 for existing customers. So you’re forced to look at flippies or more layers – and other of those options drops yields, as discussed. That will *always* be the case. DVD9 has lower yield than DVD5, DVD18 has lower yields than DVD9. That’s because each layer, or side, is another step in the manufacturing process, and you will have *some* defects at every step. You’ll never have perfection. So the more steps, the more net rejects. That’s unavoidable.

    Now, the rate of increase in rejects might be restrained – early on DVD5 dominated because DVD9 was lucky to get 50% yield, but eventually it DVD9 got up over 90%. BD50 started out around 50% yield, but it is between 75-80% now and increasing rapidly. That’s the teething pain of any new process. HD DVD benefited from being close to DVD so yields were better than BD, but the gap was narrowing fast as BD could make rapid gains, but HD DVD was already closer to being debugged to start. DVD 2.0 would probably have a similar initial benefit from being based on DVD, but how good will BD be by the time it comes out?

    And, since DVD isn’t going away any time soon, the BD vendors have an instant competitive solution if another format were to emerge – just start bundling the DVD. They don’t have any real reason to do so today, so they don’t. But if there were any threat from a hybrid format, they could do it in a heartbeat. Suddenly you’d have full DVD quality *and* full BD quality in one package, up against a compromise hybrid.

    Wanting to have a portable copy is something the studios are aware of – look at recent moves by Fox and Sony to include ready-made portable H.264 versions on some of their BD releases. You can copy them off using a PC with a BD drive, or over the network from the PS3 (and BD-Live players to come). Versions of the movie ready to run on your iPod or PSP. Expect this to become increasingly common. Another alternative that have been tried with BD and DVD is to include a download code with the disc to allow the user to download a portable copy online. Either solution is easier than ripping a DVD and re-encoding for a PMP. And I do think studios will increasingly support this as a value-add to sell more movies. Fox in particular seems pretty gung-ho about this approach.

    Blu-ray already has 8% of the home media market, DVD the other 92%, as of last week – according to Nielsen VideoScan. That’s a rapid increase, it was 6% the previous week, and 2-3% at the end of the format war. More and more people are buying BD be cause the uncertainty is gone, and there are more titles to buy because the studios are putting out more titles on BD. Some of them have said they plan to have *all* new releases day and date on DVD and BD.

    Even if they do add HDi to DVD doesn’t mean it will get used. Three-layer HD DVD was also approved by the DVD Forum and never shipped. They’ve have other DVD specs that have never really been used. HDi will require new players – well, maybe DVD with HDi will work in the HD DVD players out there, but that’s a TINY market. Chicken & egg – which studio is going to invest in putting HDi content on their discs without players, and who is going to make the players without content? That’s been an issue for Blu-ray with Profile 1.1 and BD-Live. Hardware vendors have been slow to add them because there weren’t discs to use them, but studios were slow to add them because of a lack of players. Sony’s helped to jump start things by upgrading the PS3, the overwhelmingly dominant BD player, to BD-Live/2.0 so not studios are planning the titles, and that will pull other vendors into releasing updated players.

    Humberto, you are WAY off on your numbers, it its first week of release ‘I Am Legend’ shifted 3,557,634 units, and 802,651 in its second week. Check out the data at http://www.the-numbers.com/ While only a relative handful of titles will shift millions of copies, a number of titles will sell well over 100,000.

  6. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price April 8, 2008 at 8:27 pm |

    DVD with HDi will work in a lot of players without new hardware. All the game consoles with network functionality, all computers…

    The point of HDi is to work with network-enabled systems. Presumably most network-enabled players can firmware update, and thus, can take advantage of HDi. The problem will be getting device makers to push those firmware updates out (I suspect the game consoles, Mac, and Windows will embrace it… other platforms probably won’t).

    I think the DVD Forum is hoping that with HDi on DVD discs, that BD-Live content will wind up playing on the DVD variant of discs through HDi. The producers will simply simulcast that content to both formats, giving HD on DVD.

    Theoretically, you could stream HD over the web, and offer an HD digital download via HDi, and leave the DVD as standard definition. And, that would really scare Blu-Ray, with iTunes/Netflix eating away on one end, and DVD gaining HD over the web too.

  7. MegaZone
    MegaZone April 8, 2008 at 10:14 pm |

    I can see MS adding HDi to the Xbox, and the Xbox 360 already has it from the HD DVD support. But I don’t seen Sony adding HDi to the PS2 or PS3 with their stake in BD. Nintendo doesn’t support DVD at all, so they’re moot. HDi is built into Vista, and available for XP. I don’t know that Apple would build it into Mac OS – they didn’t for HD DVD, you need 3rd party software.

    But there are millions of standalone DVD players, and only a very small percentage of them have network connections. And even if they do have a network connection, that doesn’t mean they have the processing power and memory to run HDi applications. In fact, I’d bet most of them don’t – they generally don’t have much in the way of CPU power at all, far less than HD DVD players used for HDi.

    So yeah, it is a bigger pool than just the HD DVD capable systems, but it would still be a very small percentage of the DVD install base, and that’s *if* vendors released updates for the boxes in the field. And what incentive do they have to do so as opposed to trying to sell a new unit with the capabilities baked in? Unless they charged for the update.

  8. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price April 8, 2008 at 10:34 pm |

    If Nintendo ever gets Wii DVD playback added, there’s nothing stopping it from handling HDi.

    I don’t see MS updating the original Xbox with HDi, I suspect the code for HDi will be taken from the HD DVD player on the 360.

    The point is that you just need one DVD player with HDi in your house. You could then watch the HD version via streaming on your HDTV, and have the versatility (no pun) of taking your DVD with you on all those old players.

    I suspect Toshiba and Panasonic will update high end DVD players with HDi, Xbox 360 and Windows will get an update, and the rest… will buy a single new player. That’s a whole lot better than having to add Blu-Ray to every source you watch a movie on. I don’t see $50 portable LCD Blu-Ray players any time soon.

    Panasonic and Toshiba want HDi to succeed. They’ll update players that can be updated (and I suspect that includes their HD DVD players too). Microsoft wants HDi to succeed as well.

    Sony? Well, they’ll play the waiting game and see how much HDi penetrates. I doubt the PS3 would never get HDi… it just might be the last player to get HDi.

  9. DVD with HDi, Take Two | Christopher Price .net
  10. Christopher Price
    Christopher Price April 8, 2008 at 10:41 pm |

    I’ve followed up with a new blog post, which should bring a bit more clarity to all of this:


  11. WLAN Router 路
    WLAN Router 路 November 14, 2010 at 6:28 am |

    there are bargain dvd players that are sold in our area. i think they are generic low cost dvd players .-‘


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