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Sony's Obsession with Proprietary Formats 491

Posted by Hemos
from the repeating-the-mistakes-of-yore dept.
geoffrobinson writes "Jonathan Last, writing for a lay audience in the Philadelphia Inquirer, comments on Sony's push for the Blu-ray format: 'Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. One of life's more satisfying ironies, however, is that the same fate often befalls those who fixate on history... ...Obsessed with owning proprietary formats, Sony keeps picking fights. It keeps losing. And yet it keeps coming back for more, convinced that all it needs to do is push a bigger stack of chips to the center of the table.'"
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Sony's Obsession with Proprietary Formats

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  • They could get away with this if they still made quality products, but they have flooded the market with a ton of junk. After buying several sony items that quickly died on me I will never buy sony again. The propietary stuff is just icing on the cake.
    • cliche retort (Score:5, Interesting)

      by xusr (947781) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:19AM (#15472501)

      I bought Sony's original MiniDisc recorders for field recordings. It's a workhorse and is still performing like a champ. When I retired my Walkman (you know, the cassette kind...) after 12 or so years of continuous use, it was not for mechanical reasons.

      Ok, so mod me down. I just had to respond to a knee-jerk comment with another.

      • Re:cliche retort (Score:3, Informative)

        by P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022)
        I am sure that many of Sony's flagship products are very good.. however they started slapping their name on a bunch of products that were just regular consumer items and were of poor quality, diluting their brand.
      • Re:cliche retort (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The irony is that Sony's definitive device - the Walkman - was borne of a Philips proprietary technology, the audio cassette.
         
        Sony's dabbles with their own tech tend to lead to them leading the way, and no-one following. They even rename tech - iLink anyone - to make themselves sound different. At the end of the day, they release a lot of proprietary new tech when it isn't needed.
      • Re:cliche retort (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica (681592) * on Monday June 05, 2006 @12:16PM (#15473069)
        You know the pattern in your examples? They're all old Sony products. It's the newer ones people seem to be complaining about.
      • Re:cliche retort (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gearfab (913180)
        Likewise, I still use my Sony D8 DAT Walkman and Sony R300 DAT Rack 11 years after purchase. With some modification, they are easily able to circumvert SCMS restrictions - which never really mattered since I bought them to tape/process Grateful Dead shows. Having said that, Sony should stick to making great versions of existing consumer products and quit trying to create/force everyone into their proprietary formats. They, quite simply, never have and never will win these battles.
    • Whereas those old Betamax machines just keep running, and running, and running, and. . .

      KFG
  • by Clockwurk (577966) * on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:14AM (#15472456) Homepage
    Far from being poorly supported, Blu-Ray has wide industry support (over 90 companies) and has the following companies on the Blu-Ray Disc Association [wikipedia.org] board of directors.

            * Apple Computer
            * Dell
            * Hewlett Packard
            * Hitachi
            * LG Electronics
            * Mitsubishi Electric
            * Panasonic (Matsushita Electric)
            * Pioneer Corporation
            * Royal Philips Electronics
            * Samsung Electronics
            * Sharp Corporation
            * Sony Corporation
            * TDK Corporation
            * Thomson
            * Twentieth Century Fox
            * Walt Disney Pictures
            * Warner Home Video Inc.

    Of the major media houses, only Universal Pictures has pledged support for HD-DVD.
    • by AnonymousJackass (849899) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:27AM (#15472572)
      CompUSA are now offering a variety of BluRay Products [compusa.com] for pre-order.
    • Most of those studios released UMD movies too.

      For a while.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:45AM (#15472758)
      I think that assuming the upcoming format battle is limited to Blu-Ray and HD-DVD is too simplistic. I would add to the mix: existing DVD and the anti-format: movies via the internet. Exisiting DVD still looks quite strong since the quality improvements gained from DVD to Blu-Ray/HD-DVD arn't nearly as compelling as the gains when moving from VHS to DVD. Movies via the internet is more paletable every day with data rates improving and the cost of storage decreasing.

      To me, it looks like a four horse race with DVD leading on the inside lane, Internet gaining ground on everyone else and HD-DVD and Blu-Ray weighed down by Big Media interested and lacking the speed to overtake DVD or outrun unfettered internet access.
    • Well, only Universal has EXCLUSIVELY pledged support to HD-DVD. Sony are obviously Blu-Ray exclusive and Fox are in that camp for the moment, but most of the others are fence-sitting by either planning for both, or publicly letting it be known that they'll jump if HD-DVD does well in the next 6 months or so.
    • by deltagreen (522610) on Monday June 05, 2006 @12:01PM (#15472916) Homepage

      You make it sound like Sony was the only company backing their technology in the past, and that was the reason they failed.

      As well as Sony and Sanyo, Betamax video recorders were also sold by Toshiba, Pioneer, Aiwa and NEC. The Zenith Electronics Corporation and WEGA Corporations contracted with Sony to produce VCRs for their product lines. Department Stores like Sears in the US and Quelle in Germany sold Beta format VCRs under their house brands as did the Radio Shack chain of electronic stores.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betamax [wikipedia.org]

      The HD DVD Promotion Group also has a rather long list of members, among them:

      • Broadcom Corporation
      • CANON INC.
      • FUJI PHOTO FILM CO., LTD.
      • Fujitsu Limited.
      • Hewlett-Packard Company
      • Hitachi Maxell, Ltd.
      • Imation Corp
      • Intel Corporation
      • Kenwood Corporation
      • Konica Minolta Opto, Inc.
      • Lenovo Japan
      • Microsoft Corporation
      • Mitsubishi Kagaku Media Co., Ltd. / Verbatim
      • NEC Electronics Corporation
      • Paramount Home Entertainment
      • RICOH COMPANY LTD.
      • SANYO Electric Co., Ltd.
      • TEAC CORPORATION
      • TOSHIBA CORPORATION
      • Ulead Systems, Inc.
      • Universal Pictures
      • Warner Home Video Inc.
      http://www.hddvdprg.com/about/member.html [hddvdprg.com]

      If Universal Pictures is the only media house supporting HD-DVD, it does seem a bit strange that Warner Home Video Inc. and Paramount Home Entertainment are also members of a group promoting HD-DVD...

    • Then why is it that the first 3 HD-DVDs released were all from Warner Home Video? ( Last Samurai, Million Dollar Baby and Phantom of the Opera )? Content producer support is anything but decided at this point.
    • Sony, Sanyo, Toshiba, Pioneer, Aiwa and NEC all supported Betamax. Presumably some studios did, too. There's no loyalty among corporations; *if* Blu-Ray starts looking like a failure, those companies you listed will not hesitate to jump ship (same goes for HD-DVD, of course).
  • How is it Any more (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nazmun (590998) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:17AM (#15472480) Homepage
    HOw is it any more proprietary then Toshiba's HD-DVD (or whomever the designing company is)? This isn't a rhetorical question, I just don't know how.

    Both techs seem to be upgrades with associated licensing fees for the tech. Do DVD's lack any licensing fee's to whomever originally designed it?
    • by PFI_Optix (936301)
      I don't think it's that Blu-ray is "more proprietary" so much as it marginalizes itself. HD-DVD is on the market now, and hit the shelves much cheaper than BR. What I'd really like to know is why I should rush out and buy their overpriced format instead of continuing to purchase $5 DVDs that I can watch on my XBOX. Of course, I'm still waiting to be convinced why I need to spend $500 for HDTV when I can get an analog for $150 and receive all of one less signal.
      • Uh, have you ever watched HDTV? It is insanely better quality for network TV. The difference is smaller for premium (HBO etc) content, but is still significant. Or do you mean why would you pay for cable when you can get OTA? But OTA isn't analog, so your comment is confusing.
        • by Jeremy Erwin (2054)
          But OTA isn't analog, so your comment is confusing.

          OTA means "Over the Air". You can receive both ntsc (analog) and digital (atsc) OTA. NTSC isn't worth much, though a very weak analog signal may be at least watchable.
        • Uh, have you ever watched HDTV?

          Yes. Many times, at friends' houses. I was not so impressed by it that I felt the desire to spend several hundred dollars more on my recently-purchased 27" TV. For the same reason that I don't spend $500 on a new video card when I am perfectly happy with a $200 mid-range model. I personally don't think a few more frames a second and a few less jaggies are worth $300, and I don't think a sharper, higher-resolution version of the exact same image is worth $300+ either.

          I don't bu
        • Uh, have you ever watched HDTV?

          No, I have a HDTV monitor from 2001, so none of the current HDTV crap will play on it. Frankly, I don't see the appeal, nor am I willing to spend $thousands on something I can't even record.

      • "What I'd really like to know is why I should rush out and buy their overpriced format instead of continuing to purchase $5 DVDs that I can watch on my XBOX. Of course, I'm still waiting to be convinced why I need to spend $500 for HDTV when I can get an analog for $150 and receive all of one less signal."

        If you're in the US and plan on watching broadcast after 2009, you might look into SDTV: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATSC [wikipedia.org]

        Why buy the more expensive format? Well, I guess the reason a customer might buy i
        • If you're in the US and plan on watching broadcast after 2009

          Remember when the date was 2006? Know why it got pushed back? Because people aren't buying HDTV. Now why wouldn't they be doing that? Because HDTV is expensive, and they don't see a good reason to buy it.

          Well, I guess the reason a customer might buy it is similar to why a customer would want their PC to display resolutions higher than 1024x768 today

          To give them a "larger" working area so that more information fits on the screen at once? There's a
        • Not once have I been watching tv and thought, "wow, I'd like to see the pores on the actor's nose with just a little more clarity". If they want to offer it to us for the same price as regular, they're welcome to, but the fact remains that "resolution" isn't a selling point for most people when it comes to television.
    • by MasaMuneCyrus (779918) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:45AM (#15472746)
      Because Toshiba's HD-DVD format was developed in unison with the international DVD forum [wikipedia.org], whose task it was to collaborate and create the next-gen DVDs. Sony, however, backstabbed the world, and created a second format war when it dismissed HD-DVDs and made their own specification.

      Moreover, Blu-ray has unimaginable support by movie companies, because of the very same reason everyone hates Sony and everyone hates the MPAA. The Blu-ray format has more DRM and other copy-protection than HD-DVD does.


      Simply put, BD-ROM is another propietary format developed by Sony, and it is screwing consumers in ways that this generation has never seen. The DVD forum was created to prevent another horrible VHS-Betamax war, and because of Sony's arrogance and greed, it was all for naught.
      • by Kenshin (43036) <kenshin@@@lunarworks...ca> on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:53AM (#15472833) Homepage
        Because Toshiba's HD-DVD format was developed in unison with the international DVD forum [wikipedia.org], whose task it was to collaborate and create the next-gen DVDs. Sony, however, backstabbed the world, and created a second format war when it dismissed HD-DVDs and made their own specification.

        One could also say:

        Because Toshiba's HD-DVD format was developed in unison with the international DVD forum [wikipedia.org], whose task it was to collaborate and create the next-gen DVDs. Sony, however, saw that the new format wasn't advanced enough to meet standards 5 years from now, and created a second format war when it dismissed HD-DVDs and made their own specification with twice the storage capacity.
      • by wyldeone (785673) on Monday June 05, 2006 @02:51PM (#15474305) Homepage Journal
        Moreover, Blu-ray has unimaginable support by movie companies, because of the very same reason everyone hates Sony and everyone hates the MPAA. The Blu-ray format has more DRM and other copy-protection than HD-DVD does.

        Yeah, because even though HD-DVD and Blueray use the exact same [wikipedia.org] content protection system, blueray's drm is far more onerous.

      • by nutshell42 (557890)
        Because Toshiba's HD-DVD format was developed in unison with the international DVD forum, whose task it was to collaborate and create the next-gen DVDs. Sony, however, backstabbed the world, and created a second format war when it dismissed HD-DVDs and made their own specification.

        The "International DVD Forum" is just a coalition of the willing. It's a group of companies that came into existence when Sony's and Philips' MMCD merged into Toshiba's SD initative to create a new optical disc. There's nothing

    • HOw is it any more proprietary then Toshiba's HD-DVD (or whomever the designing company is)? This isn't a rhetorical question, I just don't know how.

      It isn't more proprietary. Sony's blu-ray is deffinately superior in a lot of ways, the most important from Sony's perspective is that it is Sony who get's all of the royalties. That is at least a decades worth of very fat checks.

      Both techs seem to be upgrades with associated licensing fees for the tech. Do DVD's lack any licensing fee's to whomever originally
    • by DA-MAN (17442) on Monday June 05, 2006 @01:57PM (#15473879) Homepage
      HOw is it any more proprietary then Toshiba's HD-DVD (or whomever the designing company is)? This isn't a rhetorical question, I just don't know how.

      1) The Blu-Ray license agreement requires that no one make a combo HD-DVD/Blu-Ray player. HD has no restriction.
      2) The Blu-Ray standard allows players to be disabled when they phone home via Ethernet, should the keys of a player ever become compromised.
      3) The Blu-Ray standard will not allow one to burn their own movies. Blu-Ray DVD players check for a hologram, which if it isn't present, will not play video. Say goodbye to making backup copies or putting home movies on HD.
  • by mehtajr (718558) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:18AM (#15472492)
    ...if it loses. If Blu-ray wins, it's Sony making an absolute killing by developing the standard for hi-def DVD content. The author ignores that, and that the situation he described with Betamax is apples and oranges with Blu-ray (i.e. Sony making deals with dozens of companies to get Blu-ray drives and discs out).
  • by MonkeyPaw (8286) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:18AM (#15472496) Homepage
    Someone like my mother will go buy a new television - HDTV. She'll upgrade her cable box to HDTV. When it comes time to buy a new DVD player which do you think she'll pick? HD-DVD or Blu-Ray?

    Of course she'll pick the HD-DVD because it sounds like it will work with her system.

    As for the other Sony products.. I like their hardware. The Clie I have ran circles around the Palm out at the time. I HATED memorystick.

  • by MrSquirrel (976630) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:23AM (#15472533)
    It doesn't matter to me who wins in the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray battle. Why? Because regular DVD's look great! High definition looks better than non-HD, but not THAT much better (especially considering the costs). Sony says the ps3 will cost less than a blu-ray player... that's at $600! You can get an amazing DVD player for $150 with all the bells and whistles. When HD-DVD/Blu-Ray come to market and start to popularize, you can bet plain old DVD prices will drop. From a financial sense, DVD's trump HD-DVD and Blu-Ray DVD. ...not to mention that yargh, I'm a pirate matey, and I like to rip/burn DVD's -- something that'll be nerfed with Blu-Ray/HD-DVD.
    • Regular DVDs look "great" only in comparison with VHS tape, and VHS is a joke. DVDs and LaserDiscs both push the limits of the NTSC standard -- a standard that is decades old and well past due for replacement. I do think the HD disc format war is depressing, and all the DRM they are piling on is depressing, and it frustrates me because they are screwing up something we really need.
      • "they are screwing up something we really need."
        Why do we need it?
        I need food. I need shelter. I could even say I need the Internet since that is how I get my news and most of my information but that would be a stretch.
        I don't NEED HDTV or an HD DVD.
        The correct term is want. Now the media companies need it so they can prevent pirating and resell you all their old content in HD format.
        All too often we are told we need things that while are nice to have are not really all that important in the grand scheme of
      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday June 05, 2006 @01:03PM (#15473429)

        ... and it frustrates me because they are screwing up something we really need.

        Sure, sure, higher resolution video entertainment is a pleasant luxury item, but it boggles the mind to see it described as "something we really need".

        I mean, solutions to problems of social injustice, environmental degradation, resource exhaustion, those are things we really need. Prettier ways to watch movies in our livingrooms are nice, and something I'll certainly be spending money on when their available and affordable, but hardly a necessity.

    • My mom likes VHS, but her collection isn't growing as rapidly as it once did since they aren't making as many of the things anymore. Once either HD-DVD or Blu-Ray win standard status, a generation or so down the line, will they still be making new DVDs which will just get more and more pirateable as desktop tech progresses? In any case I think they're fighting over our children's money more than ours at this point.
    • by timsesow (969190) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:43AM (#15472722) Homepage
      So, if you want to burn your own HD-DVDs, then you better go Blu-Ray, 'cause there aren't any HD-DVD burners coming out anytime soon. I have my first Panasonic Blu-Ray drive in my machine now, and it works great. Burns DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RAM, CD-/+/RW, and 25 and 50 GByte Blu-Ray disks (both -R and -RE). Plugged it into a CentOS 4.3 system (that LINUX for you Windows types) and it just worked. May be expensive ($900) right now, but that is the introductory price (read: recover engineering costs ASAP!). The real price problem right now is media, at just under $1US per gigabyte for rewritable (50GB BD-RE is $43 street, if you buy in quantity). The only HD-DVD media I can get is already recorded with a movie. Not really a computer product, just a TV product and that is sooooo 1980s!!
    • DVD's do look great, but there is something better out there. I watched HBO's Rome and Lost in HD and was quite impressed, but most people don't have a high resolution monitor or TV, so yeah, they won't see the difference. Also makes grabbing stills much easier ;)
      HD content on a 60" TV does look damn spectacular. Lost was especially good, found the island pans, etc, quite relaxing.
      • but most people don't have a high resolution monitor
        Are you kidding? Every CRT made in the last decade ought to be able to do 1080p easily. Hell, my 19" CRT maxes out at more than twice that, at least!

        I feel sorry for all these poor fools who think these dinky TV resolutions are somehow "high." Something like 5000p would be "high!"
    • by Skapare (16644)

      Well, I'm not a pirate. And the choice between HD-DVD and BR-DVD matters to me. Why? Capacity! I want it for a recording medium. With 15GB for HD-DVD and 25GB for BR-DVD, the latter would be the way to go if the pricing between them would be equivalent. Obviously, if BR-DVD stays at twice the price of HD-DVD, then it might not be worth it.

      Of course the big market the manufacturers are looking at is the HD video media market, selling new players and licensing the manufacture of all that media being pr

  • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:26AM (#15472567)
    Their proprietary formats recently have probably met the first goal of proprietary formats: feeds revenue into the company. Unfortuantely, they just keep failing to be adopted as defacto standards (for good reasons).

    Look at their memory stick. While they didn't succeed it making it the de facto standard for portable media, I'm sure it's worked great for them. Their cameras, PSP, etc all use it and between their manufacturing and licensing I'm sure it helps them out some.

    The PSP's UMD bombed for movies, that's a given, but it was a worthwhile "attempt." Personally, I think it was the price that killed it, had they made it cheaper than it would have been worth it for travelling purposes (and only travelling).

    Sure, technologically UMB is not the best for gaming because of the power/loading time associated with discs but I'm sure the licensing helps them, but it was a good effort. Storing a lot of data for personal gaming probably doesn't have too many options. Besides, if company X wants to print a game for the PSP they get a piece of the production fee one way or another.

    I have a feeling Blu Ray is where it all hits the fan. Unlike it's other more recent proprietary formats which can supplement their own products, Blu Ray can only survive on its own in the wild. It must be adopted as the main video format or else there's just little point in it. Sure if it fails you can still sell Blu Ray burners for Desktops and such, and if PS3 goes Blu Ray then publishers will need to kick a few pennies to Sony.

    But in the end, it needs to beat out HDDVD to win and the only way that could happen is if they beat it to market or offered it as a cheaper alternative. I guess we'll see what happens here.
    • Well, HD-DVD is already out on the market... so let's see if they can go for cheaper.

      Wait, it's Sony...
    • Look at their memory stick. While they didn't succeed it making it the de facto standard for portable media, I'm sure it's worked great for them. Their cameras, PSP, etc all use it and between their manufacturing and licensing I'm sure it helps them out some.

      The problem with the memory stick is that a lot of people went out of their way to avoid anything using a memory stick, simply because it tied you to expensive Sony products. And memory stick is one of the most confusing as hell "standards" out there

  • It is too hard to tell right now whether blue ray or HD-DVD will win. It is also hard to tell exactly what the adoption of HD will look like. Part of the problem is that the HD market is confusing, there isn't that much HD programming available, etc. Still, it is coming - just like its been coming for about 12 years.
    • "It is too hard to tell right now whether blue ray or HD-DVD will win."

      Too true. I remember my friend's father, years ago, when he proudly displayed his brand new DiVX player. Then two months later DVD became the standard and he was stuck with hardware quickly becoming unsupported.
    • there isn't that much HD programming available, etc

      What the fuck are you talking about? 35mm film has a higher resolution than SD, and even HD-- so if studios want to release movies on bluray or hddvd, they can release discs which will be visually superior to DVD. Primetime Television has been HD for a couple of years now.

      Yes.there are currently only a limited number of hd-dvd titles available. But this has nothing to do with a lack of programming, and more to do with the fact that hd-dvd is quite new.
  • by RSquaredW (969317) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:35AM (#15472647)
    It always seems to come up that Betamax was 'technologically superior' to VHS, and there's always some /.er who posts a refutation. Instead of being redundant, I'd argue that Minidisc was Sony's worst "technologically superior" failure. MD came about a few years before Zip, and had more storage capacity (177 MB versus 100 MB), a smaller form-factor, and the discs were cheaper. However, the software was terrible for audio (you had to record directly into the audio jack) and there was no way to use MD as portable storage until long after the iPod had arrived. There was a huge market for Zip as a middleware between floppy (1.44") and CD-R, and Sony could've aimed MD towards that market and done well (and provided a superior product to those damn Zip disks).

    Even when the first hard-disk mp3 players started coming out, Sony 'updated' with the NetMD software. That software must've been the inspiration for the rootkits of 2005, and was one of thoe most user-unfriendly products I've ever seen. Still no data-recording, even though competing players had that function, and an annoying three-copy rule on each mp3. Add this to a proprietary format and you get a terrible experience - no wonder MD never caught on. Even so, the hardware was good - the HiMD update allows .mp3 and provides hard drive functionality...but too little, too late. I would hope that Sony has learned the lesson of MD: superior technology without user-friendly software is worthless.
    • I have a NetMD player kicking around some place. I also like to refer to it as "The Worst Christmas Present Ever." For those that think the average consumer won't choose HD-DVD over Blu-Ray by name along, consider that I ended up with a stupid NetMD player because my mom saw on the box "Compatible with MP3!" MP3 and DVD are the standards now -- maintaing those names goes a long way with the average consumer.

      I gave up on my MD player after about three weeks. Slow transfer times, arcane rules about what I
    • I realise I'm speaking empirically here, but I didn't see the minidisc as a failure, at least not from a consumer standpoint. Everybody I knew that had a portable music player had a minidisc player at some point. Sure, you could never buy prerecorded discs, but the point was moot - you recorded your music digitally from your CDs using the optical S/PDIF port on the back of your stereo, and there always was (and still is) a plentiful supply of recordable media available in the shops.

      Sure, Sony was slow t

    • I owned betamax and vhs.

      VHS was *never* even close to betamax in terms of image quality.

      But it had 6 hour (and some 8 hour) tapes instead of 5.5 hour tapes.
    • there was no way to use MD as portable storage until long after the iPod had arrived

      Who told you that? There was a portable Data Minidisc drive before the iPod was even a gleam in Apple's eye. It was not available in the US and AFAIK would not let you transfer music via the data interface - you still had to use the stupid optical as your only digital interface, in real time. Before mp3 players, though, the minidisc was the best thing going. Kicked the hell out of CDs, and unlike a recordable audio CD,

  • Disposable media (Score:2, Insightful)

    by od05 (915556)
    I'd prefer bringing back the tape or having cartridges with plastic casing (like NES games) so my media doens't need replacement every 5 years. I remember seriously abusing NES games and cassette tapes and having them still work.

    Both HD-DVD and Bluray are optical disks that will not play if scratched. If the media itself wasn't so fragile people won't need to back it all up in the first place. I won't be buying into any of this fragile DRMed media that will not play if scratched until I am able to ba
    • Whatever happened to those CD-cartdriges. Sure they were bulkier than a cd, but really a similiar getup that actually protected the disc, would definitely be useful (and help justify the cost 10-20 dollar cost associated to a .50 cent piece of plastic).
  • by Gat0r30y (957941) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:38AM (#15472680) Homepage Journal
    Sony has a virtually guaranteed market for blu-ray disks in the PS3 gaming market. Unless the PS3 is a total failure [slashdot.org] I doubt blu-ray could be a real loser. I don't blame Sony for trying to use that market to push HD-DVD out of the market.
  • Obsessed with owning proprietary formats, Sony keeps picking fights. It keeps losing. And yet it keeps coming back for more, convinced that all it needs to do is push a bigger stack of chips to the center of the table.'"

    I wouldn't exactly call Sony's efforts dismal failures. I know dozens of people who bought Sony stuff and are locked into Sony's bullshit formats, and who pay a markup of 100%+ or more for flash memory and storage (because of Magical Fairy licensing fees, I presume, the formats aren't superi
  • The last Sony products I bought were Walkman Cassette players and a Trinitron TV. Back then those products were values for the money. Now I look at everything from digital camcorders to various music players and see no good value. I see locked in technology that would cost me more to own so I find something else to buy that does give me value and quality for my money. The article mentions Betamax, the memory stick and that stupid mini-disc, all examples of proprietary, expensive and locked down technologies from Sony. If Blu-Ray is the same it'll have the same fate as the other products Sony has tried to pawn off on us. It'll smell like a turd but they'll have pretty girls and advertisements telling us that's flower perfume we're smelling but it'll still be turd. Sony thinks that they have the video game players locked in because of the PS1 and PS2 and they reason that those folks will migrate to whatever nonsense Sony puts down in front of them. This was the reasoning with the mini-disc and the memory stick as well. Sony thought they had the personal music player market locked up. I mean after all, wasn't the walkman the most popular thing on the planet? Folks won't mind if we lock them into our Sony's expensive stuff. Only it didn't work that way, other music players came and other memory options came out and that market once owned by Sony was gone with the wind. The article writer Jonathan V. Last is right, Sony is a prisoner of their own internal logic and keeps making the same fatal mistakes.
  • by rkhalloran (136467) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:50AM (#15472810) Homepage
    The studios listed for HD-DVD are *also* listed for BR ("CYA group"), but Sony's got more lined up for BR only. When little Joey wants his Disney fix in HD, and the parents find out it's only to be had on BR, guess what wins? Add the gaming boost from Playstation's market share and Sony may actually have something here.

  • It may not make sense to us regular folk that go to work and collect our checks to keep wasting time and effort of forcing a proprietary format but for someone like Sony that has the resources if I were Sony I keep trying to do it.
    Its one thing to develop, market, manufacture, distribute etc... the next new radio/tv/gaming/remote control... to earn large profits to feed the 800lb gorilla. But how little effort would it take to earn some extra change if you controlled a widely used format?
    Considering they al
  • Same as with audio (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drdanny_orig (585847) * on Monday June 05, 2006 @12:20PM (#15473098)
    It's interesting that the history of SonicStage, the software Sony distributes with their consumer Walkman-type stuff (minidisc, "mp3" players, etc) is similar. The "preferred" format is ATRAC (.omg/.oma) a proprietary one that no other software supports. When MP3 was finally added, it was not truly MP3 -- rather it required you to process MP3 files through their software which SONY-ized it to a more propietary form of MP3. Today, when you plug a Bean player (Sony's previous generation iPod competitor) to a USB port, it's recognized as an external disc drive, but you cannot just drag-n-drop MP3 files (or even .omg files) to it and expect them to play: Sony insists on getting their hands into your audio data.


    Original versions of Sony's minidisc platform wouldn't allow you to digitally upload material you had recorded. You had to route the audio outout and use an analog process to get the stuff to your PC. When customers complained, they responded by providing the upload capability, but you only had one shot at it: the recording was then marked uncopyable!!! Finally, they currently support unlimited uploading, but I suspect it has other odious restrictions.


    If I didn't have so much invested in Sony hardware, I'd drop them like a rock.

  • Propriatory formats are a good example of a good strategy for making money that clashes with the requirements of customers.

    If you force people to buy only your memory sticks (for example) then they are less likely to move to something else which doesn't support them as they'll end up with a format that is useless.

    In addition, the markup on these items can generate a healthy revenue. The higher cost of the sticks is only partially due to volumes but also due to the large profit tacked on the top.

    Howeve

  • by Anonymous Meoward (665631) on Monday June 05, 2006 @12:28PM (#15473153)

    To: Howard Stringer, CEO, Sony Corporation

    From: Djinns'R'Us, Wish Granting Department

    Re: Recent requests after bottle opening

    Dear Mr. Stringer,

    We are pleased to announce that we have fulfilled your latest request: to make Sony "the next Apple". Although we had to steal resources from projects in our Monkey's Paw Department, we have managed to complete this task up to your specifications.

    We hope you enjoy the restructuring. Sony now resembles Apple, circa 1996.

    Sincerely,

  • by fm6 (162816) on Monday June 05, 2006 @12:54PM (#15473350) Homepage Journal
    The submission makes it sound like Jonathan Last is some kind of technical expert. He's just a reporter on the technology beat. He does make some good points in the article, but he also makes some of the lame mistakes ("the DVD already had one competitor, DivX" and "household gadgets needed in a war-ravaged country: rice cookers and heating pads") typical of those self-taught "experts" who doesn't know technology as well as they think they do.

Vax Vobiscum

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