Originally Posted by DrDon
Amir can correct me if he wishes, but I wouldn't read animosity toward any format into that so much as an inevitable progression of technology beyond spinning-disc content distribution. We're already seeing music drift away from physical distribution methods. Heck, we're seeing a LOT of entertainment circumvent traditional distribution methods. I think it'll happen sooner than ten years, too. Microsoft would much rather distribution not involve something they have to pay a licensing fee for.
. Indeed, that is, and has been our position for a long time. I have been on the record here for probably 3 years stating that if the only way to get high quality HD to consumers in 10 years time, then we
have failed in doing our job .
Optical is a means to an end and not the end itself.
I think everyone would agree that if you could get the same quality experience as HD DVD/BD without making a trip to the store, or waiting for a package to arrive in mail, it would lead to more enjoyment of that content. We have however as an industry, failed to deliver on this promise for video but as Doc mentions, we are almost there for music. But that doesn't mean we should ignore the revolution around us.
For people who want to spin this as us not wanting HD media, well, they can mislead themselves all they want
. But it won't make it true or make for good reporting. Until last year, I managed the Windows Media Player yet the team working on HD DVD player/HDi was twice as big as that group was! If that doesn't show how committed we are to HD DVD, I don't know what will. So I hope people don't read the wrong message into these statements. We are simply being realistic about what could happen, even if it goes against our high level of investment in some areas.
If you want to be concerned about policies of companies involved in this field, you need to worry more about people who want to stay with a single way of doing things, rather than being open to whatever customers ultimately want - whether that aligns with their current interests or not. Case in point is my ex-employer who put up a huge fight, claiming Tape is not dead when non-linear, hard disk based editing revolution was started by Avid. Year after year you would go to NAB conference and hear the same pitch. How NLE (non-linear editing) would not have the quality needed, etc. With a highly profitable $1B business in tape recorders, I could see why they didn't want people to edit with computers. But edit with computers they did and Avid went on to write the book here. How many of you think of using two tape recorders when you think of editing your video?
I worked for a high-end video company at the time who was also threatened by NLE. But instead of defending the old, we sold the company to someone who didn't know any better
. And we moved on to work for companies who embraced the revolution (e.g. I moved to run engineering at Pinnacle where we provided the 3-D effects engine for Avid). My ex-employer suffered the same with CRT vs flat panels and MP3 players.
There is always the worry that the new thing is not as good as the old. But one has to keep an eye on what is coming, even if that other thing doesn't seem competitive yet with the best of current technology. Yes, digital downloads are not as good as HD optical today and the whole experience of delivering commercial content to consumers is well below where it needs to be. But that should not deter us from investing to make these new things better. There is a great line uttered by Michael Douglas's character in the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gecko, that says, the last guy who made a buggy whip, probably built the best one there ever was! Yes, digital delivery has many problems today. We are not blind to it. But the day its time comes, and that time will come
, we want to be prepared for it. We don't want to be the best at playing bits from a mechanical device.
Do people realize where DVD came from btw? Its genesis was in the failure to deliver VOD in Orlando during Time Warner trials. Instead of packing their bags, TW and Toshiba realized that the whole business was about a better way to deliver content than VHS tape. So the DVD was born. Now I have VOD on my Comcast cable box and the economics finally make sense in that respect. If one gets fixated on spinning an optical disc as the only means of delivering pristine audio/video experience, they just might miss the next DVD revolution.
And we are not the only ones thinking this way even if you put aside companies like Apple, Comcast, etc. Take Toshiba for example. They not only make optical technology but also hard disks (think iPod), and flash memory. On the latter, they are sitting pretty as 64 gigabyte flash cards start to replace hard disks in laptops. Can you think of anything more horrifying than spinning a sensitive platter with all of your media in a portable computer? Yet that is what we are doing today. Think back 5 years ago where the typical MP3 player had 256 MB of flash memory. If you talked about 64 gigabyte laptops then, people would just laugh at you. But here we are on the verge of this revolution. This doesn't mean they stop working on hard disks and optical media but does show that they are a forward looking company in this manner and will help to create solutions for you that enrich your life more.
As to time frames, my favorite saying is that people overestimate the nature of change in the short term, and underestimate it in the long term. As such, I think it is very much true that digital delivery is not going to take anyone by the storm in the next few years, no matter how much some people may wish it to move quicker. But move out past that period, and it will have to be there and bigger than people think. So while 5 years is probably on the short end of this period, 10 years is way past the point of when the revolution would be in full swing.
For customers afraid of change, you should not be. First, you have all the control. You pay for it, we build it. If you don't, we won't (not for long anyway). So no one is going to force you to go in any direction. So if you are in love with optical and want to have nothing to do with digital delivery, then vote with your pocketbook that way and the history will be written the same way.
Second, if you are BD fan, then you should really be in love with digital delivery. With digital delivery running off hard disk, we have no limitations of any sort. In our Silverlight demos, we show 10 simultaneous videos playing with full interactivity. I am proud of interactivity in HD DVD but we don't hold a candle to this with two video decoders. You want to do 3-D? We can do it today. You want to play video at 100 mbit/sec? No problemo. You want to have 50 lossless tracks? You can download all you need, when you need it, in the language you need it. You want to have 10 channels of audio, you can have that too. Given all of this, I find it so curious that it is the BD companies, fans and bloggers who seem more concerned about people talking about digital delivery. If you want bigger and badder specs, believe it or not, digital delivery is more your friend than BD. Without committee decisions, those technology can also move faster to adopt to your needs.
There is no question that the world of digital media is changing. That is one constant we all know and must believe in. For a company our size, it is expected that we invest in broad set of technologies related to it. This is why I have two other businesses that I manage which deal with other forms of delivery. I would not have it any other way. Hopefully, you wouldn't either.
So any other rants you want me to go on about?