You Mean People Don't Like Closed, Proprietary Movie Formats?

from the really?-you're-serious? dept

Despite reports several months ago that they were selling well, Sony’s UMD movie format looks to be in its death throes, with movie studios stopping the release of their films on UMD, and some retailers no longer stocking them. It’s hard to understand why the UMD failed — what’s not to like about a proprietary format that works with just one device? Movie execs point the finger at the arrival of the video iPod, and the inability to hook the PSP up to TV sets as the reason for the failure of UMD, but that’s missing the point. The reason it’s failed is because Sony — yet again — tried to lock consumers into a format they didn’t want or need. There’s nothing inherently better about the video iPod itself than the PSP for watching videos, if anything the PSP’s huge screen blows it away. But iTunes offers users a wide variety of video content, at somewhat reasonable prices — not a movie that’s locked solely to the PSP for the same cost as a standard DVD. Sony owns a movie studio, it could have lead the way with some sort of digital distribution plan for PSP video content, but as it’s proven time and time again with things like Betamax, the Minidisc, ATRAC and now UMD and Blu-Ray, it thinks its own locked-down, proprietary methods are better.


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Comments on “You Mean People Don't Like Closed, Proprietary Movie Formats?”

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30 Comments
Brad says:

Re: Because Apple is different than Sony!??!?!

I download episodes of “Lost.” Watch ’em on my iPod, watch ’em on my screen. That’s more than one device in my book. I convert a couple of my owned DVD movies and copy them onto my iPod for that flight this weekend. It’s not like I have to get all my video content from ITMS. (but I have no clue if it’s the same for PSP)

And anyone who thinks Beta was short lived should talk to people who worked in TV industry. Better quality playback of Beta didn’t mean much to consumer/home market, but Beta was still used extensively by professional video. (maybe still is, I’ve been out of that world for a while now)

Ray says:

Good tool to teach about DRM

This seems like a great way to explain to people the problems of DRM. Here it is easy to see the limited use of UMD, cause that thingy won’t fit in the hole on the other thingy.

This isn’t so clear with DRM files like iTunes. I don’t people realize how similar the two situations are, yet the UMD dies while iTunes is prospersous. This could be a great time to point out the similarities and maybe some more people will start to get it.

AJ says:

They call downloading stealing?

Sounds alot to me like they are the theives….. Sony=Here buy this, BUT you can only watch it on this, between these hours, and under these particular circumstances, and then only if you get a mother may I from the pope. ….. but you have to get permission in email format, sent throught our servers between the hours of 1 and 4 martian time. ….

My reply= How about I’ll buy the dvd and not open the package, stick it on my shelf with the receipt (for litigation purposes)then download the movie from some 12 year old that cracked your cd protection software with a sharpie and a peace of cardboard, and watch it on whatever the hell i want, while you sue the hell out of the guy next door who happens to be a judge b/c i downloaded it using his unsecured wifi neetwork….

This is all madness and it needs to stop.

Cary says:

Format conversions

I have a Sony Clie with a 320×480 (or 480×320) screen. I use TCPMP to play video files on it. I use the linux program dvd::rip to convert DVDs for play in TCPMP. The quality isn’t DVD, but I can fit a 2 hour movie on a 512MB memory stick (I want to get a 1GB for longer movies, better quality, or just more movies). Most are pretty watchable, though some are more watchable than others. The big drawback is the time it takes to do the conversions. I wish that it were possible to easily obtain the format that you want for download for a reasonable price.


These proprietary formats make it easy for the movies to be “blessed” by the studios, but don’t make it easy on the consumers. The studios are the biggest roadblocks consumer satisfaction. They think that if they give consumers an inch that they’ll take a mile. But I would be more than happy to buy a copy of a movie at a reasonable price, if I could get the format(s) that I want easily without having to spend my time converting. One day, maybe, the studios will activate a brain cell or two and give the people what they want, and they will still make money from it. Right now they are just too greedy for their own good.

Dosquatch says:

Ah, and so it comes to pass, reality living up to my reason for not buying a PSP: a strong disinclination to repurchase content over and over in different formats.

Had the PSP come equipped with a standard DVD drive and the ability to play the movies and the PS1/PS2 games that I already own, I’d probably have ponied up the dough. As it is, it ain’t for me.

Andrew says:

Blu-ray

Blu-ray won’t fail like the others, unlike the article suggest blu-ray is not locked down, its being added to PS3 as a high-compresion, high-quality provider and it will also bring HD to movies formats so its goin to explode and be the standard for future hard copy data tranfer. By the way if you have a two sided, double layered blu-ray disc you can store over 80 gigs of data thats pretty useful if you ask me.

Troop says:

Wireless Video

I believe the PSP is still one up on the Ipod. Not only can you listen to music and watch movies you can get online. Suppose the UMD does fail in the movie format, let Sony establish a “netflix” like program. Download the movie from Sony, retain it on a memory stick, and watch as you please. Thats my easy solution. I love my psp!

Tyshaun says:

I still use a VHS and a TV and I’m woefully unqualified for this arguement (just kidding, I have a beta max too ;-))

However, my old VHS tapes did make me think of something, when these companies come out with their DRM ladden media, how long do they espect to provide support for them and new products? VHS is a rather weird example where although their are much more numerous and higher quality products out their, companies still make VHS. Will the same things hold true for all of these proprietary digital formats 10 years from now?

Bob says:

compression bad

I think most people are losing sight of some things.

It doesn’t matter how well you compress a media stream; I can still hear the difference.

Audiophile-minded companies come up with HDCD and SACD and HD video because it looks and sounds BETTER and enhances the enjoyability of the media.

So when people complain about not being able to play their compressed formats on xyz device, I’m at a loss. At a freind’s house I watched a pirated copy of a movie that was still in theaters. Its picture was pixellated, the audio went in and out of sync and about 20 minutes into it I said, “If I pay for your movie ticket, can we go to the theater (5 minute drive) and watch this movie?” He couldn’t seem to understand what the deal was! I asked how much he paid for that DVD? He felt proud that he had paid only 5 per disk (he had bought 4 for $20, all now-showing titles, illegallly made). I told him that he had wasted his money.

I understand portability. I like the notion of being able to take 1000s (or tens of thousands) of songs with me in a device the size of a cell phone. But the trade-off is resolution. All my compressed songs are ripped at 256 kbps, because I can’t stand the distortion and artifacts persent in low-bitrate-compressed signal. It sucks, about as bad as listening to FM with a weak signal–all staticky.

Is it enjoyable to watch pixellated video on a 3-inch (huge!) screen and hear the soundtrack on two crappy speakers or headphones? Not to me.

So I find a lot of this argument a waste of time. I’d almost rather fill a 60-gig iPod-like device with .wav files. I could still get about 5000 songs on it with TRUE cd quality and I could patch it into any input and carry my entire collection of music with me in my pocket. But why would I want to watch the Bourne Supremacy on a 2-inch LCD? Why? No really, why? I’d rather read or converse with someone or masturbate, to be honest.

Gadget envy causes people to lose sight of why music or movies exist. How can you immerse yourself in 7.1 channel surround with twin subwoofers etc when all you have is that cellphone-screen and narrow-range speakers, on batteries in your car with all the background noise and on and on?

What we need isn’t better compression. We need better uncompressed data density in small portable devices. A terabyte solid-state device that fits in a pocket would be nice. Plug it into a surround sound system for playback. Then take it somewhere else. Full bandwidth entertainment is what I prefer. When something is cheap or free it usually infers lower-quality. 96kbps mp3? Free! Yay! Sounds like shit! Boooo!

I’m tired.

Hadouken says:

I don’t see it happening, but it would be nice if you could buy a DVD (or HD DVD/Blue Ray) and have a nice hi-def version of the film that’s perfect for use on the TV, and also have a version of the movie on the same disc ready to be played on my iPod, or PSP or whatever other media players are out there. The multimedia file will of course be a lower resolution suited to the smaller screen, and maybe there’s some sort of licensing crap similar to when you register your adobe photoshop or what have you.

Of course for this to work, there would have to be a standard format and/or DRM that everyone can agree to use.

Honestly, I have no problems with studios putting licensing and protection on their media. But they need to realize people are going to want to watch things on their portable devices and not have to keep buying the same movie everytime someone comes out with a new device. The devices should attract people because the device is desireable, not because it’s the only device that plays media type-x.

Lazlo (user link) says:

Wow

I’m not surprised to hear that UMD is crashing and burning — what, pay more than for the DVD, get fewer features, lower resolution and have to watch it on a miniscule screen, hey, sign me up! — but it’s telling that it apparently couldn’t catch on even with the astounding amount of shelf space that’s been handed over to the format since its launch. Much of which was no doubt purchased at great expense by Sony. Whatever else happens, they can’t claim the format didn’t get a fair shot.

Audiophile-minded companies come up with HDCD and SACD and HD video because it looks and sounds BETTER and enhances the enjoyability of the media. So when people complain about not being able to play their compressed formats on xyz device, I’m at a loss.

Most people don’t care about the quality. Really, they just don’t. SACD/DVD-Audio sales are miniscule at best and most people have absolutely no idea what HDCD even is. Prerecorded HD content is poised to follow suit, thanks to a morass of competing standards and DRM-driven compatibility problems. DVD took off because of physical convenience and bonus content, not because the picture quality’s better than VHS (S-VHS was a signigficant improvement over VHS yet it crashed and burned)…

AJB says:

fetish

i have a fetish for small things and disposable income. i’ve collected over 30 UMD titles. mostly they are old school movies because i like the packaging. haven’t really watched any because i can just rip my dvd’s to my psp and it’s a much better way. though i do watch a few on plane trips. i can see why it’s a dead format, but i guess it’ll end up being a cool collector’s item as the years go by…

Chris says:

UMD movies suck.

I have PSP with a few games and one umd movie. I bought it to take with me on deployment overseas. Most of my movies are on dvd format and would be easily ripped onto a memory stick. There are numerous hacks for the psp. More than sony would like. The only time i see a justification for umd movies, would be to rent them to take on trip. UMD is just another series of short sited decisions by sony.

I found PSP’s screen quality to be far better than Ipod video.

just my thoughts,

Chris

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: UMD movies suck.

If Sony would just start selling UMD’s for $5 or $10 bucks, UMD would have had much more success, also the fact that there is no S-video jack on the psp doesn’t help either…unless Sony takes a different approach on this UMD format, I don’t see it becoming popular anytime soon.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: UMD movies suck.

If Sony would just start selling UMD’s for $5 or $10 bucks, UMD would have had much more success, also the fact that there is no S-video jack on the psp doesn’t help either…unless Sony takes a different approach on this UMD format, I don’t see it becoming popular anytime soon.

beaver w/ cleaver says:

plan

Sony does like proprietary formats… They should add support for more media formats, sell blank UMDs and UMD writers, then this format may survive. By the way, I’m writing this on my PSP right now, never bought a UMD movie and had to deal with ripping and converting DVDs to the three formats the PSP supports. That gets annoying.

beaver w/ cleaver says:

plan

Sony does like proprietary formats… They should add support for more media formats, sell blank UMDs and UMD writers, then this format may survive. By the way, I’m writing this on my PSP right now, never bought a UMD movie and had to deal with ripping and converting DVDs to the three formats the PSP supports. That gets annoying.

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