Just in time…

Interesting. I originally planned to publish the centenary issue of Cites & Insights toward the very end of February. Then, with all the copy ready, I moved that up to February 19 or so. Then, Friday, when I’d double-checked the draft printed version twice, after doing all the editing and copyfitting, I said “Oh, what the hey,” and published it right around 6 p.m. on Friday.

Including Perspective: Tracking High-Def Discs, in which I finally offered as firm a projection as I’ve ever offered:

  • That the format war might very well end this year, although there was also a chance it wouldn’t.
  • That the most probable outcome was Blu-ray as the sole commercially-viable high-def disc format, with that happening “sometime in 2009 or possibly late 2008.”

Good thing I published it Friday night. I was way too cautious (I don’t claim to be a futurist or to have any inside knowledge), but at least I got the right direction.

It’s not entirely official yet, but apparently Toshiba isn’t quite as “stubborn and profitable” as I thought–or at least not as stubborn. It’s been reported, and apparently confirmed by a company official (although not a named one), that Toshiba’s pulling the plug on HD DVD in the very near future. (At a loss of tens or hundreds of millions of dollars: If you believe some observers, Toshiba’s been losing money on every player it sells, and one can only assume that Toshiba forked over a big chunk of the $150 million that helped Paramount & Dreamworks to say they’d only release HD DVD versions, a decision you can expect to see reversed in a few weeks or months.) Understand: I like Toshiba. My wife is delighted with her Toshiba Satellite notebook; the only real flaw (a tendency to drop WiFi once in a while when running on battery) is a Windows Vista power-management defect, not a Toshiba defect.

So maybe “sometime in 2009 or possibly late 2008” becomes “in the first half of 2008”–although there’s a second part to that probable outcome: “Blu-ray as the sole commercially-viable high-def disc format.” Whether that will be true in the first half of 2008, or any time, probably depends on your definition of commercial viability.

No, I don’t buy Wired‘s latest (and wholly predictable) note that it doesn’t matter because it’s all going to be downloads. As I imply in the Perspective, true high-def downloads aren’t really practical on a mass scale–and in any case a lot of us actually like to own some of the movies and programs we expect to watch more than once.

It seems highly probable that Blu-ray will be a total market (combining players, drives and discs) in the hundreds of millions of dollars this year (actually, it may have been in 2007, depending on what percentage of PS3 sales you consider to be Blu-ray sales). I think that counts as commercially viable, although still a relatively small percentage of overall video disc and player sales.

So: I was too cautious–but at least I got it right (and I’d been saying since the get-go that Blu-ray had the edge.)

Oh…and yes, I know it’s “Samsung” not “Samsong.” Even reading in print, twice, I still manage to miss at least one typo in every C&I. Such is life.

2 Responses to “Just in time…”

  1. “a lot of us actually like to own some of the movies and programs we expect to watch more than once.”

    I certainly fit into that category, but it’s my feeling that the DRM on Blu-Ray is so intrusive and restrictive that purchasing a Blu-Ray disc doesn’t even amount to ownership. I have a very large collection of DVDs, and I intend to stick with that format as long as it’s at all possible to do so. I suppose if DVDs get phased out, I’ll buy a Blu-Ray player to watch rentals, but I have no intention of building a collection like I have now unless fundamental changes are made.

  2. walt says:

    That’s an excellent point (not that either DVD or HD DVD is free of DRM). I can’t imagine that most people will replace many DVDs with Blu-rays in any case, but it would certainly be great if Sony and pals on the studio side learned something from the downloadable-music situation and eased up on DRM. (I’ve been writing about DRM for years, never favorably.)

    In that sense, defeating HD DVD doesn’t necessarily count as victory.

    For others reading this: Click on John Overholt’s name. The blog you’ll reach is one of the most interesting and unusual covered in Academic Library Blogs: 231 Examples (page 66), and I’m delighted to see that new entries are showing up.