Thursday, January 05, 2006

Jumping Into the War

I have strived to keep this blog relatively controversy free. Mostly because I tend to like to debate controversial topics ad nauseum, and it is great practice in self-control to have a blog where I can say anything I want...and then don't.

But this is a topic I can remain silent on no more. The war. No, not the war in Iraq. I'm talking about the war that is about to begin regarding HD DVD and Blu-Ray DVD. Are you with me? No? Well, the short of it, for those not in the know, is this: There are two new competing DVD technologies coming out this year that will provide greater detail in DVD viewing, especially considering that we are about to enter the mandatory era of HDTV, if you aren't there already. (We aren't, by the way...still too expensive for my tastes.)

Anyhow, competition is supposedly a great thing for consumers, because it helps drive the technology and leads to leaps and bounds improvements in price drops. But in this case, I can't help but see this competition as being nothing more than a way to further expand the amount of shelf space for DVDs in Wal-Marts and Best Buys across the country. Not to mention longer lines at the Customer Service desk.

You don't see the connection? Well, luckily for you, I'm going to tell you. I know, I know...I can see the relief across your pained expression already.

First of all, consider this: For some time, store shelves were packed with movies both in VHS and DVD formats. Then, of course, as VHS titles have gradually disappeared (and in some stores, are no longer sold at all), we started seeing the full screen and widescreen versions of DVDs sold separately. (Widescreen, by the way, is the way to go folks. Sure, you have that letterbox effect...but in the long run, it is a wiser choice. Trust me.)

Anyhow, recently, I started seeing a new section in the movie department: PSPs. Movies for the little Playstation Portable. Not a big deal. But consider the introduction of not one, but two new movie formats. You'll have your movies in DVD-full screen, DVD-widescreen, PSP, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray DVDs. This two-fold increase in formats will mean a two-fold increase in store shelf space as well.

Which, of course, leads to the long lines at the Customer Service desk...because you and I know that, invariably, people will pick up the wrong version.

"Next! I can help the next person over here."

"Yes. I bought this copy of King Kong, but it won't play on my DVD player."

"Well, sir, did you buy the right format?"


"What kind of DVD player do you have?"

"Uh...I think it is an Apex or something."

"No, sir. I mean, what format does it play?"


And on it will go for each and every customer. Of course, this will lead to increased customer dissatisfaction, and we'll start seeing more and more people suffering health issues resulting from post-DVD-buying-induced depression. People won't want to shop anymore. It will ravage the economy, and we'll enter yet another recession. All because of the DVD wars.

There is an easy solution to all of this, of course. Since the companies developing the technology couldn't come to an agreement, I think it should be put to a vote. I mean, every other war is in some way political, why not this? Let the people decide. Along with voting for President, Senators, and Representatives, there would be a slot for "preferred DVD format". Whichever wins the majority of votes is what is sold to consumers.

Anyhow, folks. I know what you're thinking...this guy is really getting too controversial for my comfort zone. I'll probably lose many of you as readers of my blog now. I'm sure I have offended someone in this. But, it is one of the important issues of our time. How could I ignore it?


Kate said...

What you want to do is step back and wait for a clear format winner to emerge. Trust me. I have a huge stack of laserdiscs I can't watch since my player broke two years ago. *sob*

Megan said...

And here I thought this would be about the DRM controversy of these formats.

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

You lost me a Blu Ray, Ryan. But I can feel your passion, and so I wish you well in your crusade.

Kerri. said...

Chaos at Best Buy. HD. Widescreen (Agreed - this is the best formatting). PSP. All that crap.

And now my family members are trying to get me to buy a Divix player so I can rip movies and watch them.

I suddenly miss my ham radio. And my rotary phone.