Thursday, December 20, 2007

High Resolution Digital Video - Redux

Okay, in the previous article I outlined Microsoft's relationships with large media organizations, the history Microsoft has with the removal of user access to digital content, and examined the choice of Microsoft's technology inside the Xbox 360 and the subtle push on the HD-DVD High Resolution Digital Video format made by Microsoft. In doing so I highlighted the relative success of Sony's Blu-Ray High Resolution Digital Video format.

Taken out of context, it would seem that Sony was indeed given a free pass over their behavior in the market, but that isn't exactly true. In an example specific to myself, I've personally lambasted Sony's Technical Support division for the PlayStation 3 since the system does not support an HDMI to DVI cable. I've ripped holes the size of a volcano into Sony multiple times, and not just in this blog. I have repeatedly offered assistance to Sony and given them business plans that would pull them out of their slump and make them the good guys in the public relations market.

So, in the interest of clarification, I am not exactly a fan of either the Blu-Ray or the HD-DVD specifications. I do not like the specifications for video playback that mandate Digital Rights Management that are controlled by licenses variable and viable to the content vendor and not the content consumer. Variable is defined as a license in which the terms can change at any time by the desires of the content vendor, and viable meaning that the terms are only in the best interests of the content vendor. It is my opinion that the first High Resolution Digital Video format to remove the Digital Rights Management requirements will be the immediate successful product with no external qualifications.

I don't think Sony will be that company.

Thing is, Sony's history of shenanigans with consumers is just about as long as Microsoft's. I've gone over it before, both here and on Gamenikki, covering the Beta format, Atrac, the Walkman, and so on. I've covered the history of Sony as a corrupt technology vendor that believes itself a market leader when it is not. On a personal level, I really don't like Sony, and part of me wishes they would either listen to those who are genuinely trying to help them, or just to go away.

That being said, I like Microsoft even less. Let me put this in perspective. Microsoft is a convicted criminal at a Governmental level on 5 different Continents: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. The only two continents that I don't think have governmental level crimes lodged against Microsoft are Australia and Antarctica, and if anybody in Australia wants to say that yes, Microsoft has been found guilty of crimes in a court of law, please tell me.

Sony, on the other hand, hasn't exactly been indited in court cases on a level that involves a national or local government. I came come up with several class action lawsuits, patent lawsuits, and civil charges, but I don't think I've ever actually seen a government charge Sony with crimes.

Yes, Sony has been a right old buzzard with it's malicious root kits and some of it's nastier promotions. Sony has run afoul of various regulatory agencies by paying for graffiti to promote the PlayStation Portable and for questionable ad campaigns.

Yes, Sony purchased Connectix Virtual Game station then outright lied about having made the purchase, until I personally burned them by sending copies of the court statements and the public receipts for the purchase.

Sony ain't innocent, period.

However, Sony does have a clear market goal with Blu-Ray. It is a technically sound solution, and it is one consumers have appearently chosen. It's also one that I chose, I have a PlayStation 3. Okay, I don't actually have any movies for it... and I only have one game (Ratchet and Clank)... and it's actually booted into Yellow Dog 95% of the time...

The point is that what Microsoft is doing now, Sony wants to do in the future. There is no question that the content vendors see big money in down-loadable content wrapped in layers of Digital Rights Management that the vendors retain control over. There is no question that Microsoft is seen as a major player and figure to enable that dream...

I think Sony's close enough to the edge though they might actually start listening to the consumers, and have an unprecedented opportunity to become the consumers best friend and deliver a smashing blow to the rest of the Media Cartel and Microsoft.

I also don't think Sony would ever figure it out on their own.
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