Originally Posted by robertazimmerman
Hi there, Larry,
The reason I believe that a prolonged war is not beneficial to consumers is simply because of the "confusion" factor. Many people not bought into either format simply because they don't want to be left with hardware and software that will join their Betamaxs, Elcasets and CEDs in their closets. I would think that a potential buyer would be put off by the knowledge that if they buy a HD DVD player, they won't be able to play Disney discs and if they buy a BluRay player, they won't have access to Universal films.
Unfortunately this "confusion" factor you complain about is inherent in any scenario where there is competition, but that certainly doesn't mean that competition is not a benefit to the consumer.
Obviously there are PROS and CONS to the format war. True, the CON as you say is the "confusion" factor. But as evolver points out, the unsettled Blu-ray specs introduces even more confusion to the consumers. Talk about confusion, it will be very interesting to see the reaction of the Blu-ray early adopters, with their expensive standalone players, after the new players are released supporting the new features along with the new discs supporting these new features.
On the other hand, as I alluded to, the obvious PRO of this war is that without the competition the consumers wouldn't be seeing such rapid innovation, or rapidly decreasing pricing, even subsidized products where the manufacturer is actually not covering their costs. Surely the consumer would never have seen these benefits had there been only one format from day one.
Perhaps the "ideal" situation for the consumer would have been to have started with competing formats, but in which all of the studios were format neutral at the outset of this war. This would have preserved the benefits of competition and would have permited the consumer to choose the best format without "confusion" as you put it.
But alas, even if the war had started in this idealized fashion, it is likely that "confusion" would have raised its ugly head. Eventually a studio would have done precisely what Paramount has done, decided one format was more profitable to them than the other and switched to a format exclusive position. Thereby, introducing "confusion".
So it seems that inorder to accrue the benefits from competing formats, it is virtually unavoidable to incur some transitionary "confusion" as studio support eventually perceives an advantage.
With regard to your analogy about the obsolesence of Betmaxs, etc., there is an important difference in this situation. Currently DVDs make up 99% of the market to 1% for the combined HD formats. Someone buying an HD player gets an upconverting player which continues to work on their entire existing DVD and HD collections, and will continue to work with new DVD releases. In other words, even if the owner chose the wrong side of the format war the player is not completely obsolete as in the Betamax example. An important point to note is that even if the owner chose the "right" HD format the player is sure to be technologically obsolete anyway long before DVDs are replaced as the dominant consumer market.
Originally Posted by robertazimmerman
In terms of pricing, I have always said that it is a non-issue. The Blu-Ray side won't be defeated simply because of prices. If they have to market players at $149.00 and lose money on each sale, they will do it simply to gain market share. Sony has always had "prestige pricing" to differentiate their products from their competitors. They may try to promote the belief that by buying Sony products, consumers are getting higher quality products. Therefore the price differential between HD DVD and Blu-Ray is justifiable.
As we all (should) know, that is a big joke. Sony products should be priced lower than their competitors' as they invariably fail prematurely. Couple that with their rootkit fiasco, the massive recall of Sony batteries last year and other massive blunders, I wouldn't buy anything made by that company.
Frankly, you seem to be making my case on pricing.
You are not the only person to be aware of a continual series of high-profile Sony blunders.
Sony does not have infinite resources, nor does their board of directors have infinite patience. This gambit with the PS3 gaming console as a Blu-ray player has lost them their lead in gaming and still hasn't delivered the needed "knock-out punch".
Speaking about "knock-out punches" what do you think will happen when Universal and Paramount decide to phase out DVDs and exclusively release HD DVD combo discs using the same production facilities that they used to produce DVDs? I'd sure like to see the expression on the faces of those Blockbusters strategic wizards who decided to give HD DVD the boot!