Didn't Like UMD? Don't Worry, Sony's Got Another Locked Down Format For You

from the sisyphean dept

After failing to convince consumers to accept yet another closed, proprietary format in which to buy media, Sony appears to be trying an end run by pushing movies on its Memory Stick cards instead. Of course, in inimitable Sony fashion, they’re locking things down so much that they’re essentially useless. Users who buy a special Memory Stick package also get a DVD for their PC, which contains four Sony movies formatted for the PSP, and users can then “unlock” and transfer just a single one of them to the memory card. The idea seems to be to turn people on to the idea that they can use their PSPs for more than just games, and that it’s a portable media player as well. So giving people that buy an overpriced memory card their choice of one of four crappy old movies is an ideal way to do that, right? If Sony really wanted to encourage people to use their PSPs to watch movies, why not just give them software to transfer their own DVDs to the devices? Of course, that wouldn’t be very Sony, would it? Despite the company’s history being littered with the failures of locked-down formats, and a supposed realization that its relentless insistence of keeping a tight-fisted grip on exactly what consumers would be allowed to do with its products was holding up innovation, Sony’s reliance on restrictions persists.

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Comments on “Didn't Like UMD? Don't Worry, Sony's Got Another Locked Down Format For You”

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Mark says:

Sony is lost

I can’t think of another company so completely adrift as Sony seems to be at the moment (with the possible exception of AOL). With all the advantages they had in the console game market with the PS2, they’ve managed to seriously flub the development of the PSP market and it looks more and more like the PS3 will be a late, overpriced disaster. A year or two from now, when Bill Gates is gloating over Microsoft’s dominance of the gaming market, remember that Sony came out to fight that battle, tripped over its own feet, and fell on its sword.

Topher3105 (profile) says:

The problem

Sony needs to decide if they are a consumer electronics company, or a media content provider. They can’t be both because they are failing in both markets.

Too often Sony cripples their own innovation because they need to ensure any new media format or electronics component can’t be use to copy their movie, music, or game division content allowing for rampant piracy.

When you look at it, there is no other company out their that has their fingers both in the content players and the content makers. Why is Apple so successful? Because while they may have some DRM in iTunes and iPod, they do not limit the iPod to only run DRM files. Microsoft might make games, but games are not Microsoft’s bread and butter, so content protection isn’t a top priority. Sony keeps insisting on crippling new products in order to protect their media property.

Sony should spin off their stake in movies and music and video games so that they don’t have to continue this schizophrenic existence. Without having to impose DRM in every digital device they make, perhaps they could make an iPod, gameboy, DVD or Xbox killer.

For now, every time Sony fails in a hardware venture, they just make another Spiderman sequal to pay the bills.

Franssu says:

Re: The problem

A Spiderman sequel will never pay the bill of a failed hardware venture. If the PS3 fails (and it will), the whole Cell and Blu-Ray businesses will be at risk. we’re talking several billions of $ here.

The content industry is in fact pennies compared to the consumer electronics industry. What amazes me is that Sony is letting itself be directed by the delirious ideas of its smallest division. You’re right, they should spin off Sony Pictures and Sony Music and then try to regain their lost brand image as a consumer electronics company.

BlackWidow says:

I have a PSP because I won it in a poker tournament online (OMG Do I have to give it up because that is illegal now in washington)….

The first thing I did was go spend over $100 on things for it including the 1gb memory card…

I love it for gaming and music, but I soon discovered what a pain it can be for movies..on a flight from Seattle to Orlando, I wanted to watch my own movies on UMD…too bad the battery (which I hadn’t upgraded yet) wouldn’t last long enough to keep me occupied the whole flight!

The technology is great…but Sony has made this thing so User unfriendly..sometimes I want to just throw it on EBAY, where all good useless electronic fads end up.

lay person says:

The problem

I agree with #7 Sony needs a new model because clearly their current one is falling apart.

It may be possible for Sony to have both the players and the content but internally they need to separate and create distinct entities. Currently, each is inhibiting the other and both are helping themselves go nowhere.

Sony must divide then conquer. Not conquer then divide.

Ryu (profile) says:

MS to take over Sony? Stop dreaming…unlike MS Sony actually protects it’s assets and cares about piracy. While MS just throws everything at the board, no wonder we have so many pirated copies of MS windows floating around, and that is just in the software compartment. When you look at the gaming department, we see Xbox’s with hard drives in them with tons of pirated games on it, which cost 200 bucks to build, so who’s losing out?

Ryu (profile) says:

MS to take over Sony? Stop dreaming…unlike MS Sony actually protects it’s assets and cares about piracy. While MS just throws everything at the board, no wonder we have so many pirated copies of MS windows floating around, and that is just in the software compartment. When you look at the gaming department, we see Xbox’s with hard drives in them with tons of pirated games on it, which cost 200 bucks to build, so who’s losing out?

smokebreak says:

lol......they do more than make electronics?

I think that sony…..under pressure from increased risk of profit losses, will eventually sell out to bill gates. After all, why should they make their own monopoly, when bill is already so good at the game. The sooner all the companies realize that people hate not being able to do what they wish with their legitamatly bought media, and that there is no DRM that cannot be broken by one means or another (analog works for all), the sooner they will turn a profit by making consumers happy. After all, I don’t know when the corperations decided that they would rule the consumer. As far as I can see, they still need our money to function.

Franssu says:

Re: lol......they do more than make electronics?

You’re right, they still need our money to function.

But there is this incredibly stupid law in the United States that make a company more responsible towards its shareholders than its consumers. That’s why corporations are more and more aiming for the short-term bottom line than for good consumer relations.

The result ? Crappy products, arrogance, *AA sueing its clients, unbelievably poor consumer support, and so on…

This stupid law created by stupid fascist corporatist lawyers will ultimately be their doom.

Tarky7 says:


I think Topher3105 is onto something here. A very good idea.

My biggest complaint with Sony, especially after the disastrous rootkit fiasco it that they refuse to acknowledge or even listen to the consumers who buy their multitude of products. You would think by now there would be some sort of Damage Control in motion within Sony corporate to at least hear what the needs of the people are, opposed to plowing ahead with this notion that digital content can somehow be put back into the box.

The level of hostility and denial exibited but Sony BMG and the RIAA towards file sharing and the horrible scare tactics they are employing in suing large tracts of the customer base in breathtaking. A more misguided marketing campaign has never to date been devised.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the the core of the problem lies in the creation of bad content and old business models. At its own peril Sony continues to risk it’s future on this type of psycho fascist groupthink.

I for one have stopped buying Sony products and actively encourage other early tech adopters that I call my friends to blacklist Sony from the list of acceptable companies to buy from. In the last 12 months the Sony DRM rootkit fiasco has caused Sony to loose thousands of dollars in sales through the purchases by me and my homies cause none of us has bought a single Sony product. We are talking at least 5 laptops,4 desktop machines, 3 computer screens 7 digital cameras and countless Cd’s and movies.

I suggest you all do the same. Hit ’em where it hurts, their lousy corporate fascist wallets !

Big Jim Slade says:

Maybe... Just maybe...

I think that all these media companies are somewhat like pharmaceutical companies. They are vying to be the ones to develop the pill/format to solve the piracy problem… creating the industry standard for content protection… then license that out for a gozillion dollars.

The company that can successfully create that standard that is comfortable to the consumer and the developers stands to make a stupid amount of money. So therefore; some of these companies will continue to keep poking away at it. We are talking about big business here. They dont willy nilly nothing and only risk this kind of money when something huge is at stake.

Just a thought and I may be wrong.


Ying Guo says:


I have a PSP with an extra battery both(1800mA). I take flights from Washington DC to Anchorage AK all the time. The flight is over 10 hrs air time alone. There is usually a 1 hr layover. I have yet to ever use two batteries up playing UMD games. I have ripped DVD’s on to my MS using the PSP Video9 http://www.pspvideo9.com/ its a breeze. the only thing is u might have 4-5 different videos files for 1 movie. It is a small sacrifice i’m willing to make in order to watch 3-4 movies on 2 batteries.

Anonymous Coward says:

7-8 years ago I had a Sony Vaio desktop, a Sony digital camera, and Sony MD player, and a Sony digital video camera. I paid a premium for the interoperability that, at the time, could not be found when mixing and matching those items.

Current day, I have a home built PC, a Canon digital camera, a Creative mp3 player, and an Aptek video camera. They all cost a fraction of the Sony versions, are more powerful and flexible, and interoperabiility is a non-issue.

Sony went brain dead years ago, the body just hasn’t figured it out yet, so it keeps marching.

Jeff (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yeah no kidding. Check out Fencer’s post above. To Fencer’s point — LMAO — Anon. Coward and thinkers like him are STILL killing Sony’s Betamaxish business models with VHS — meaning the lesson that Sony should have learned WAAAAY back is STILL killing them on current new products. Not just because the new products are Betamaxed to death — but because old products that won the survival-of-the-fittest against their Betamaxed counterparts — are STILL KICKING KEISTER.


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