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Another Sony Format Bites the Dust 425

Lam1969 writes "Reuters is reporting that Universal Media Disc, Sony's PSP-only movie format, is about to kick the bucket. While the discs' novelty factor resulted in strong sales shortly after the PSP's May 2005 launch, interest rapidly dropped and movie companies are no longer interested in producing titles. From the article: "Universal Studios Home Entertainment has completely stopped producing UMD movies, according to executives who asked not to be identified by name. Said one high-ranking exec: 'It's awful. Sales are near zilch. It's another Sony bomb -- like Blu-ray."'"
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Another Sony Format Bites the Dust

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  • Blu Ray? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thoolie ( 442789 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:48PM (#15055156)
    How can Blu Ray be a flop? Am I wrong, or has Blu Ray not even hit the market yet? Isn't this kind of akin to saying that the CD format was dead in 1980? How can something be a flop if it hasn't even been a fully released product?
    • Re:Blu Ray? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 3770 ( 560838 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:50PM (#15055164) Homepage
      The article or article summary is written by someone that wants HD-DVD to win, and uses the UMD failure to try to achieve that.

      Common FUD tactics.
      • Re:Blu Ray? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Xzzy ( 111297 ) <sether AT tru7h DOT org> on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:55PM (#15055191) Homepage
        Doesn't completely invalidate his point though, Sony is responsible for many formats over the years that didn't achieve any kind of market dominance.
        • Re:Blu Ray? (Score:3, Informative)

          by zeno_2 ( 518291 )
          Of course not completely sony, but they did help to come up with the compact disc. Beta is also still used in a lot of professional area's, as with mini-discs.

          You have to admit the comment about blu-ray is a bit strange.
          • Re:Blu Ray? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by zerocool^ ( 112121 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @12:27AM (#15055546) Homepage Journal

            Betacam and Digital Betacam are used professionally... but sony has flopped (off the top of my head) Minidiscs, UMD, memory stick (sort of), and a load of other ideas.

            I used to sell both computers and audio equipment, back in the 1998-2000 era, and it's astonishing to see what sony wasted. They of course couldn't jump on the standard flash memory bandwagon (compact flash or smart media, or later SD) - no, they had to invent their own thing, and of course it only worked with sony stuff. Stupid.

            Minidiscs were a novelty, and were pretty cool for a while, but then... CD-R's and mp3 platers became cheap. Who wants to pay $5 per minidisc in order to listen to music when CD-R's are $0.25, or you can get something solid state for less than the price of a MD player? Even when a 512MB mp3 player cost $299, it was comparable to the high end MD player, in features and size. They should have LONG AGO made a minidisc MP3 player - the technology existed, and those disks hold about 480megs or so, not to mention $5 / 500MB is still a good price for media. But they didn't. Arrogance.

            All the time, I see sony's marketing people put out all this shit which, in a perfect sony universe, would all interpolate, interact, and be amazing. But, in the real world, only a few people are going to buy all sony. They have yet to deal with that reality. People want their flash memory to be usable for their camera, mp3 player, and phone. They want their media to not be format locked.

            It's just marketing stupidity and corporate hubris. Plain and simple. Develop good ideas, then drive them into the ground by making them proprietary.

            • Re:Blu Ray? (Score:3, Insightful)

              by johansalk ( 818687 )
              I would want a minidisc over a cd because it's far mre durable. That said, I had a minidisc recorder and it more than anything made me hate sony; it was crippled with stupid artificial limitations, such as the inability to upload recordings to the computer, or that stupid DRM nonsense, or that crazy ATRAC conversion.
              • Re:Blu Ray? (Score:3, Interesting)

                by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
                Yes, The fact that Minidisc is far more durable than cd's is what has made me really wish sony had actually thought about what they were doing. Minidisc can hold any data, 170? MB worth of data. Had they marketed it not only as a music storage format, but as a general storage format, they would have been unstoppable. In the days of Zip drives and other such wonderful inventions, they had a format that not only was smaller, but had more capacity, and was durable. Oh, and it was much cheaper. Zip disks w
            • Re:Blu Ray? (Score:3, Interesting)

              by markandrew ( 719634 )
              I think you're being unfair on minidisc - it still has several advantages over other formats (although they're now outnumbered by disadvantages).

              Compared to CDs, minidisc is small - that might not sound like much, but it means I can slip a MD player in my jeans pocket, my shirt pocket, hold it comfortably in my hand, whatever. For portable music, that's a must - CDs can never be as portable.

              Compared to MP3 players, the sound quality is vastly better (OK, maybe "vast" is an overstatement, but for someone int
              • Re:Blu Ray? (Score:5, Informative)

                by Pieroxy ( 222434 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @08:08AM (#15056726) Homepage
                Compared to CDs, minidisc is small
                You got that one allright. Although there are mini-cd MP3 players quite cheap that fit that requirement equally well, if not better.

                Compared to MP3 players, the sound quality is vastly better
                This is just FUD, nothing else. It would depend on the player and the MP3, for sure, but trust me, I can get you an MP3 that you will be just unable to tell from the source, let alone ATRAC. In fact, many listening tests have proven ATRAC to be inferior to MP3 at equal bitrate. And you can choose your bitrate with most MP3 players, hence defining YOURSELF the perfect quality.

                You can also get MD hifi units to put next to your CD player, which I've yet to see for MP3
                Virtually ANY DVD player on the market will play MP3-CDs. Where have you been in the last 5 years?

                I like listening to music on my stereo, not my computer
                Dude, there is no comparison on hardware support. MP3 is way out of reach on this area. Most CD/DVD players will play MP3s, even at $30. You are just out of your league out here.

                Lastly, you exaggerated the price for MD units
                Still, it much more expensive than a an AIWA Z3C, which is a mini-CD MP3 player. $50 (although I don't think you can still find one).

                My current MD portable is about the size of an Ipod nano, give or take
                This is not one manufactured by SONY then... The MZ-RH10 is 80x19x84 and the Nano is 89x41x7... That's about 5 times bigger !!!! Have you ever had a look at a Nano?

                I know none of these reasons are likely to hold much weight with 95% of consumers
                Of course, since none of them are valid (or at least still valid). You need to look around: The MP3 world has also evolved in the last 5 years.
                • Re:Blu Ray? (Score:3, Informative)

                  by markandrew ( 719634 )

                  The sound quality issue isn't FUD; ATRAC (in its latest incarnations) is simply a better compression algorithm for audio quality (at comparable file sizes); see here [] or here [] for example. Now, I'm not saying you couldn't produce an MP3 which sounds better than ATRAC, but in common usage, ATRAC generally has more fidelity. Saying that, I'm sure as MD drops off as a format and MP3 becomes even more mainstream, MP3 will improve to the point that it overtakes ATRAC - and it's not a huge difference at the momen

            • Re:Blu Ray? (Score:3, Interesting)

              by metricmusic ( 766303 )
              Compact Flash yes, but you can't blame them for not backing the SD format when SD cards came out after memory stick.

              I agree with you on the early md players not being able to playback mp3s. They shouldve made the md players capable of playing back mp3s along with atrac from the start. Also they made minidiscs capable of storing pc data but decided to make the format incompatible with md audio. So that weakened one advantage minidiscs could have had and improved their market share. by the time sony bought bo
          • Beta... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by PhYrE2k2 ( 806396 )
            First, I still use Beta, and have a great professional-grade late 70s early 80s beta deck. I love Beta.

            Many Beta lovers (like I used to) tout the "Beta is better quality than VHS" line, and this was 100% true. Beta lost due to marketing ploys and buying off video distributors/publishers into VHS, ultimately killing the technology. Also killing the technology was Beta's choice to make smaller, neater tapes that lasted for an hour, whereas the VHS manufacturers used basically the same technology with a bul
          • Re:Blu Ray? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Megane ( 129182 )
            Don't forget the 3 1/2" floppy disc. Back in 1983 or so, there were three competing formats at that size. One got used by Amstrad and Nintendo, another got used by some typewriter manufacturers, and the third was used... in the new Apple Macintosh. It was also used in an new HP computer at that time, but it was the Macintosh which caused the Sony format (which this time really was the best) to win.
        • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @12:03AM (#15055462)
          Or rather, at helping them lose. Beta is a wonderful example. Higher quality aside, it had the advantage of compatbility with professional gear. Indeed Beta won the pro wars and Betacam SP is STILL the standard to which things are compared (you often hear DV called "Betacam SP quality"). However they totally missed it on the consumer market and mainly by locking it down and keeping it proprietary ensured it's failure.

          As a more receant example take HiMD. HiMD was a wonderful extension of their neat MD format that did ok, but really failed to launch. HiMD added much better quality, more storage, and most importantly of all, high speed async computer transfers. Orignal MDs had to be dumped to computers via S/PDIF which meant no faster than realtime.

          Now it would seem this format would be ideally positioned to make major inroads for recording. DAT is on the way out fast and is expensive anyhow, flash devices cost a lot and storage is pretty expensive, HD recorders are large and inflexable. HiMD would have a big market as the next DAT in essence.... Except they locked it down all to hell. You can only transfer files to your PC with their peice of shit software. Worse yet, it orignally didn't even let you transfer it to non-DRM'd formats. So you'd record your band, transfer teh recording, and then you couldn't open it in Wavelab. Wonderful.

          I personally am skeptical of Blu-ray mainly because Sony is the big backer. They've a good track record with pro formats, but they have hosed thigns in the consumer market so many times I tend to predict they'll fail just based on their track record.

      • Yes, but certainly you must admit there is a long trend of failed Sony media formats. Betamax, Minidisc, UMD....

        And don't tell me minidisc didn't fail, I agree it was (and sort of still is) a cool format, but sales sucked and no one ever really took advantage of the technology...

        I hope Blue Ray does fail...I also hope HD-DVD fails. I'd much rather download my movies on demand, or stream them from my cable company or whatever. Eventually we'll hopefully have all of the movies we want at our fingertips and
        • Mini disc. Pffft. The Clik! Disk [] is here to stay!
      • Re:Blu Ray? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by heli0 ( 659560 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:17PM (#15055290)
        "The article or article summary is written by someone that wants HD-DVD to win, and uses the UMD failure to try to achieve that."

        That specific quote is attributed to an anonymous exec at Universal Studios Home Entertainment, a member of the HD-DVD consortium.,39025983, 40057346,00.htm []
      • That was obvious when I got this far: Hollywood Reporter.

        Paid for by Universal studios I'm certain.

        retailers also are cutting the amount of shelf space they've been devoting to UMD movies, amid talk that Wal-Mart is about to dump the category entirely. Wal-Mart representative Jolanda Stewart declined comment on reports that the retailer is getting out of the UMD business.

        Really, i haven't seen or heard anything of the sort.

        "A high-ranking executive was more blunt: "We are on hiatus with UMD," he said.

    • Sony == KOD (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fm6 ( 162816 )

      Isn't this kind of akin to saying that the CD format was dead in 1980?

      The CD format, as I recall, never faced any serious competition, mainly because it was invented by Philips, which has always been good at getting its formats accepted by the industry. The Blu Ray format, by contrast, is facing a nasty format war, at least as bad as the one between VHS and Beta, even before its launch.

      But although your comparison is wrong, you're still right — one shouldn't judge a race before it's over, never mi

  • Did anyone buy this in the first place? I always thought this was a bad idea. I seriously do not understand how it got past the drawing board.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Akaihiryuu ( 786040 )
      I don't necessarily have a problem with the format itself...but selling movies in that format (which is much lower quality than DVD) for MORE than DVD's? way. If you could get blank rewritable disks and there was an easy way to transfer movies from DVD to it, I'd have no problem with it. But I'm not about to go buy all of my movies that I already have on DVD AGAIN and pay more for them than the DVD's cost.
      • by H_Fisher ( 808597 ) <> on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:27PM (#15055327)
        I always thought that Sony made a big goof by not using the movies as a loss leader to sell the PSP.

        Think about it:

        (1) Sony is affiliated with Sony Pictures and has ties within the film and TV world;
        (2) Sony uses that influence to negotiate rights for UMD / PSP versions of movies dirt-cheap - practically give 'em away. New releases at $6-$8 a disc; older stuff, $2 or $3. Enough to cover production. So what if they take a loss on the rights? They'll get it back in sales of units.
        (3) The format's pretty secure, so piracy is a marginal issue - and the inexpensive price makes it hardly worth the time to rip and burn if you could, unlike discs that cost between $18-$20.
        (4) The ability to use the PSP as a dirt-cheap portable movie player - and a little strategic marketing in the right places could help parents see this as a Good Deal ("it does more than play those damned games, we can watch movies on it, too..."
        (5) They let other movie studios start making UMD movies also; they license out UMD to some cheap Taiwanese outfit and make some $60 - $80 UMD movie players and sell 'em at Wal-Mart. They let the format spread itself around. They keep the money in the game market and the PSP-2 or whatever the next item is.
        (6) Profit - not mega-millions, but not the loss that the current situation is likely to be.

        I'm sure there are some flaws in my idea and I'm sure someone will point them out. But in the end, somebody dropped the ball here big time. I love the PSP; it's a neat toy. But I've never bought a single movie for it; in fact, I saw this coming and told my friends to expect it - dropping the movies inside of a year - and I said that the first time I saw a UMD movie at a Goddamned Wal-Mart with a $20 price tag.

        But, I think that if Sony came back at it, even now, and tried this strategy, it could work. Even this late in the game, with the right promotion and presentation. But it's a good idea, so, fat chance of that happening, eh?

        • Sony should have pushed this heavily in the rental market. Practically giving them away to companies like Netflix. As you said, it would have pushed sales of the units themselves. UMD was obviously not a good format for the purchaser of movies, but it would have been great for the rental.
        • But, I think that if Sony came back at it, even now, and tried this strategy, it could work. Even this late in the game, with the right promotion and presentation. But it's a good idea, so, fat chance of that happening, eh?

          Can you be so sure yours is the only smart thing to do? Let's compare your idea with Sony's own idea for saving UMD. From the article:

          "We're hoping the format's going to be reinvigorated with next-generation capability that may include living-room or normal television playback," [Benjam
        • New releases at $6-$8 a disc; older stuff, $2 or $3. Enough to cover production. So what if they take a loss on the rights? They'll get it back in sales of units.

          You're assuming that the player itself is not a loss leader. Microsoft took a loss on every Xbox it sold. I thought both Sony and Nintendo were doing the same on their home consoles. Why should the portable market be any different? If that's the case -- and I can't say for certain that it is but it seems plausible enough -- then obviously they'

        • by payndz ( 589033 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @03:52AM (#15056111)
          (1) Sony is affiliated with Sony Pictures and has ties within the film and TV world;

          (2) Sony uses that influence to negotiate rights for UMD / PSP versions of movies dirt-cheap - practically give 'em away. New releases at $6-$8 a disc; older stuff, $2 or $3. Enough to cover production. So what if they take a loss on the rights? They'll get it back in sales of units.

          And they would also face a barrage of lawsuits from all the people - producers, directors, stars - who have gross profit deals on a movie and its ancillary sales (TV, DVD, etc), and would consider selling their movie at an 'artificially' low price to be swindling them out of money that's rightfully theirs. (In much the same way that David Duchovny sued Fox when it sold The X Files to its own FX channel at a far lower than normal per-episode rate - he had a percentage deal, so less money for Fox meant less money for him. Not that he was exactly starving in the street, but...)

  • by Crizp ( 216129 ) <> on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:50PM (#15055166) Homepage
    The movies are dead yes, but the format itself will live on, no? How else are they going to ship new games?
    • by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:17PM (#15055289) Homepage Journal
      They've decided to go back to a known method that worked in the 80's. You get the games printed in books and you have to hand code the hexdecimal in before you can play the game. Of course if you turn off the unit or switch games you'll have to re-enter the game. Since the printed word is compatible with all systems it's sure to be a winner! HD-DVD of course stands for HexDecimal DVD. You'll get the fun of hand entering all the hex before you can watch your movies too. The kids will love all the family time that gives you and for porn it'll be fantastic because you'll develop such strong hands!
    • What new games? Aren't they only making new games for the DS, now?
  • Interesting... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TechnoGuyRob ( 926031 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:52PM (#15055174) Homepage
    Because just this December I was travelling to Colorado in a car, and guess what I was using to watch movies? That's right, a PSP with UMD discs. I admit, they can be tedious; just like many other technologies, one piece of information (a movie, a book, an album, etc.) per storage device is starting to become obsolete (notice how companies put more and more bonus content on DVD's) because of the vast amount of space available on modern media. The UMD disc was inconvenient in this respect in that it held one game/movie per disc, and it was not writable, and not supported by practically any player other than PSP--a console which in itself isn't all that great [].

    Overall, I'm glad that this format, among others, is becoming extinct. The closer we get to a universal storage format (flash drives seem to be the popular candidate), the faster we'll get to complete integration of information. Benjamin Feingold, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, said in the article, "We're hoping the format's going to be reinvigorated with next-generation capability that may include living-room or normal television playback." I, on the other hand, hope not.
    • You can buy a portable DVD player for around $100. And you don't have to buy a special version of every DVD.
    • You do realize that you can create a personal use copy of a movie that you own or for that matter, any video and watch it on your PSP using a 1GB memory stick? Check out []
    • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mgblst ( 80109 )
      Bonus stuff on a DVD just annoys me. When I get a movie, I just want to watch the movie. I have no interest in how it was made, or feel like hearing the cast and crew talk themselves up. Now, with a DVD, I just want to stick it into the machine, and the movie starts playing - but no, I get all this crap instead, telling me not to pirate and dolby sound commercials, etc... Then, when it is finished, I have to tell it to play the bloody movie - why doesn't it just play it straight away - ridiculous.
      • by debest ( 471937 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:31AM (#15057166)
        When I get a movie, I just want to watch the movie.

        Damn, the anti-piracy / commercials / trailers that can't be skipped on most DVDs are super-annoying. When the kid wants to see the movie, I've got to stand there and wait for a couple of minutes (pressing FF when the disc deems that I am allowed), and then finally press "play"?

        I learned how to use DVDDecrypter / DVD Shrink based on this annoyance alone! Now I tell everyone about it. Way to shoot yourself in the foot, studios!
  • by cualexander ( 576700 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:52PM (#15055179)
    Look at the facts. You can't connect the PSP to any other display device. Movie watching is a social thing. You aren't going to invite your buddies over and watch a movie crowded around a PSP.

    Also, they had no distinct advantages over DVD. Why buy a UMD Movie, that is the same price as the DVD so you can watch it by yourself and can't rip it to anything else.

    Finally, who in their right mind is going to rebuild their collection, or even build a new one in a completely useless format that only has a single device capable of playing it.

    Any moron could tell them that this was doomed from the start.

    • Look at the facts. You can't connect the PSP to any other display device. Movie watching is a social thing. You aren't going to invite your buddies over and watch a movie crowded around a PSP.

      No but you will bring it with you on an airplane or a train so you can pass the time. Or maybe you take it with you and sit outside in the sun. Movie watching can be a social thing but it can also be something you do alone (by choice or by chance).

      You are right about your other points.
      • Yeah, and you can now buy a portable DVD player (with a larger screen) for under $100 bucks, that plays regular DVDs that can be bought, easily rented (at both ends of a trip and even at the airport).

        I personally would rather bring 2 gadgets, along with my existing movies, rather than *BUY* expensive movies for essentially for a single trip.


      • It's always nice to find the UMD bundled with a DVD, but Sony at least isn't clueless. I still buy DVDs, and rip them to my 2GB memory stick. I can easily fit nearly half a dozen movies on my memory stick, and archiving them on my computer HDD at a whopping 350-600mb each is a breeze.
    • by Mydron ( 456525 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:32PM (#15055349)
      Why buy a UMD Movie, that is the same price as the DVD

      If only it things were that good!! Almost always you can by the DVD equivalent for less. More quality, more versetile, less money. No brainer. UMD was doomed to fail from the get-go.

      Compare two samples, a new release and an old release:

      Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: $15.76 [] vs $21.99 []
      The Matrix: $9.76 [] vs. 17.99 []
  • A good thing (Score:2, Informative)

    I always hoped these things would die: 1) yet another gimick to make money on a saturated industry 2) yet another proprietary sony standard 3) yet more trash. These things are even more disposable than dvd's. I would think the resale is low, and the life expectancy of the whole UMD standard was already low, apparently now they're good and dead.
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:56PM (#15055192)
    A dupe? Didn't see the first one.

    Ya think Sony would remember this lesson and quit repeating it. They've introduced so many formats that *would* have been good, had they not been intentionally crippled by their media division.

    Memory Stick is about the only format they've introduced that hasn't been bombed into oblivion by the reality of a market unwilling to buy crippled products. It's only a matter of time, however, since MS is inferior and more expensive than just about any other flash-card format.
  • Hmm Lets See (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @10:56PM (#15055193)
    Sony has its entertainment side, and its electronics side. For some reason they let the entertainment side tell the electronics side how to do its job and then they are !!! SHOCKED !!! when the electronics bomb. Hmmmm.

    UMD, had little usuability because of DRM, (Crackable but who needs the headache). Also, was a low quality format because of the target device. Had a small odd media that was more expensive that its full size counterparts. And just for that final sauce releases were pretty much priced as high or higher than DVD.

    Sounds like a winner
    • Could anything other than the PSP play a UMD formatted movie?
    • by vlad_petric ( 94134 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:21PM (#15055309) Homepage
      Quality of UMD is actually comparable with DVD. Resolution is 480x272 progressive, so for a normal TV you probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference (if you could play it on a TV, that is). Capacity is "only" 1.8G, on the other hand the encoding is H264 (considerably more powerful than MPEG2). The "low quality" perception comes from the fact that you can only play it on the PSP.

      You're right about the other aspects, but I think the main problem is that you can only play it on a PSP (the Universal part is a euphemism)

      • Umm, not sure what kind of TVs you are used to, but you can sure as hell the the difference between a 480 line and a 720 line picture on any reasonable modern TV. On an HDTV, of course, the difference is even more pronounced.

        You'd actually be amazed at some of the quality differences you can get on just regular SDTVs. I got a new one some time ago and it had component inputs. I decided to try the difference between component and s-video, my DVD player supported both. You might think it wouldn't matter for D
        • Show me a DVD encoded at 720p. There are none. GP's point was that the native resolution of both formats is identical.

          Now the UMD has no notable extras, and can't be output at the native resolution (because Sony stupidly doesn't have an interface for the PSP to a HD set, nor do they have players for UMD apart from the PSP).

          You're right, 720p looks better, but DVDs aren't encoded that high, so it's a moot point.
          • Ummm, you don't know what you are talking about. You are right no DVDs are stored at 720p, that being 1280x720. That's an HD format and DVDs predated it. However all NTSC DVDs are stored at 480p (if from film) or 480i (if from TV). Now please note that the designator is the second number in the resolution pair. 480p isn't 480x272, it's 720x480. Go look it up if you don't believe me. That's the resolution of SDTV. That makes it about 50% higher resolution than UMD.

            As for progressive vs interlaced, doesn't ma
      • Quality of UMD is actually comparable with DVD. Resolution is 480x272 progressive, so for a normal TV you probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference

        That's ridiculous. That's just slightly higher resolution than VCDs, and anybody without serious eyesight problems can tell the difference between a VCD and a DVD.

        It would probably compete with VHS tapes, but certainly not with DVDs, or even SVCDs.
    • Right on, although I don't think DRM was a factor in anyway. Small, unrecordable media that didn't play on any other kind of device with no exclusive content and a price point above that of DVDs. The PSP would've had to have been an incredible, runaway hit for it to survive.
  • YAY! Another proprietary format bites the dust.
  • Maybe in the US (Score:3, Informative)

    by feardiagh ( 608834 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:02PM (#15055215)

    The US and possibly the British markets are small. But the Japanese & Korean markets are reportedly solid. I work at a post house, and we are still turning out quite a few versions for UMD. There must be people buying them somewhere.

    One studio is not indicative of the entire market. Unless that studio is Sony itself. They own the largest catalog of movies, making up over a third of the titles produced by major film studios in the last 60 years.

    • "But the Japanese & Korean markets are reportedly solid."

      Reported by whom? It's the US where the PSP is selling. The Japanese are ignoring the PSP and buying every DS they can get their hands on, and the Koreans tend not to like things that come from Japan to begin with.

      "They own the largest catalog of movies, making up over a third of the titles produced by major film studios in the last 60 years."

      The submission that this duped pointed out rumors (at least) that Wal-Mart (among other retailers) is be
  • No Surprises (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CaptainCheese ( 724779 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:04PM (#15055230) Journal
    It was always a no-brainer that the UMD format would fail in the movie arena.

    It's the lack of interoperability that make the format useless - it's all very well being able to watch a film on your PSP, but there's no facility to use UMDs in your PC,PS2/3 or home cinema (unless you buy a TV adapter.)

    It's the minidisc story all over again, but accelerated because UMDs aren't a home-writeable format.
    • "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -- Albert Einstein

      Clearly, Sony is insane.

      For at least 30 years now, they have come up with proprietary format after proprietary format, and they fail, because (drum roll....) they are a proprietary format.

      DVDs were an excellent step. Same form factor of a CD. No rewinding. Open standard. Plays in cars (why??), TVs, DVD players, computers, portables, etc. The quality was much better than VHS and it is flexible.

      What als
  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:06PM (#15055249)
    The format, whatever. The price was the fucking kicker. Who the hell is going to shell out $30+ for a god damned movie you watch on a 3" screen? If they would have priced them more like $10 a piece at least, you would have seen better sales. $30? no way.
  • by acomj ( 20611 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:07PM (#15055253) Homepage
    Sony should have put MD into its PSP gaming device instead of comming up with a "new" UMD disc format. I think it probably would have been cheaper to have a recordable MD instead of developing a new disc format that from all accounts is failing at everything except psp games.
    Also the 1 gig storage capacity of the mini discs would have been usefull and at 6$ dollars a pop pretty cheap compared to gum stick media.

    Now both stagnate...
    • If the UMD were compatible with future BlueRay players, I would've understood.

      Its not however, so there goes that.

      The fact that the PSP allows people to rip their own movies to memory stick means buying and ripping the DVD is smarter anyway.
    • I'd agree with this, expecially since Hi-MD is out (offering 1GB per disc), but the now bulky PSP would be even bigger. Wouldn't be suprised if it was a first design revision thought though.
  • Full-res video (Score:3, Insightful)

    by acidblood ( 247709 ) <> on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:09PM (#15055266) Homepage
    Hope they enable full-res H.264 playback from memory stick now. I guess they were holding it back in a futile attempt to make UMD videos more attractive.
  • Step 1) Use Extremely Proprietary Format Step 2) ??? Step 3) Miserably Fail! I saw this coming from a mile away. UMDs are far from useful, especially considering it takes zero effort to rip a DVD movie to an almost-infinitely rewritable media (Sony's *proprietary* Memory Stick, ironic enough). Besides, don't we have Laptops and *dare I say* portable DVD players for on-the-go movie watching?
  • by b0lt ( 729408 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:21PM (#15055310)

      But next week, Sony Computer Entertainment executives will begin making the rounds of the Hollywood studios to discuss plans for making the PSP able to connect to TV sets.

    "We're hoping the format's going to be reinvigorated with next-generation capability that may include living-room or normal television playback," he said.

    Since when is being able to play video on a television "next-generation"? These people are removing features, realizing that people won't buy without the features, and then adding the features back claiming they're innovative and new.
  • What a concept, I mean.. who'da thunk it?? UMD isn't killing the DVD? OMFG, I'm flabberghasted!

    For years Sony has played this game and for years they have lost. Anyone remember the minidisc? Betamax? Yet another Sony screw up, UMD.

    So long as Sony tries to "own" the market on their own devices (the PSP) they will find that people shy away. I imagine that Sony was charging a bit of money to these companies to allow them to publish movies for the PSP. Now, I can hear you saying it... any fool can put a
  • Why oh why (Score:5, Funny)

    by SQLz ( 564901 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:39PM (#15055375) Homepage Journal
    I don't know why these companies just don't pay me on retainer to tell them things suck beforehand.
  • Sony's viability (Score:4, Insightful)

    by failedlogic ( 627314 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:41PM (#15055380)
    Usually in big companies, when a few products totally flop, heads roll. I don't seem to be seeing this with Sony. Its obvious in my mind that there's a huge collusion between their Media and Electronics devision (guess who always wins).

    The Blu-Ray standard, I don't even know why they're even trying it. Look at how well their Memory Sticks are going once Flash memory has become commoditized (its 30 or 40% more). The UMD format is going to work because its linked to the PSP. Just not for movies. I don't see Nintendo trying to sell movies on Gameboy cartridges (they won't fit) but they just make the unit for gaming.

    I have an MD player, and I must say its completely unusable. Not the hardware. The software. Everyone complains about SonicStage. I've thought of buying another MP3 player (I have one w/ bad sound quality right now), but I'm really hoping they can pull off the next MD software (and get it working on my Mac). Nothing, even flash MP3 players have been able to beat the Minidic for sound quality or battery life that I've been able to find. The quality in the MD player is gained from the audio processor I'm sure.

    My complaint to Sony have really neglected me as a customer. I'm still satisfied with the product. Hopefully someone at Sony who has a clue will read this Slashdot thread and fix it. I'm sure they're putting off more people from their products then they think. IMO, PS3 is really the hit or sink product (esp if they will be losing as much money as predicted per unit) and they want the Blu-Ray stuff to succeed.
    • by bri2000 ( 931484 )
      My complaint to Sony have really neglected me as a customer. Damn right. They don't think things through at all either. In the last 10 years I've had five Sony MD players (one of the orginal S/PDIF only units, a couple of NetMDs, a Hi-MD and a rack size unit I foolishly bought back in 1998 - it still sits in my rack, I don't think it's been switched on in 5 years) and, because my CDs had mostly been ripped to ATRAC to be transferred to NetMD, the MZ-HD1 hard disc Walkman.

      Last week I finally bought an i

    • Re:Sony's viability (Score:3, Interesting)

      by monopole ( 44023 )
      Actually, Nintendo beats the hell out of Sony on movies via their Play Yan cartridge. It's a standard size cartridge that incorporates an audio jack and works with the original GameBoy Advance on up. It takes dirt cheap SD flash w/ DRM free MP4 files which encode with 3rd party software. It holds 1-2 movies on a 1GB SD card, and plays mp3s as well. As always, the battery life is insane allowing for many hours of playback.
      But the real killer is that the cartridge works on all of the advance and DS models inc
  • by PhunkySchtuff ( 208108 ) <.ua.moc.acitamotua. .ta. .iak.> on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:44PM (#15055390) Homepage
    Apparently UMD movies are encoded at DVD resolution (720x480), 16x9 if appropriate, and the PSP re-sizes the image down to 480x272 for display on the LCD.
    Now, why do sony waste the space on the UMD, and processing power to scale video, if they don't have to.
    I would have expected to see, by about now, a set-top UMD player. Sony's stated design goals are to reduce the size of a media player device to the size of the carry case for the media. See MiniDisc players for an example.
    How cool would it to be to have an iPod sized DVD player that plugs into a TV?
  • Which exec again? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Monday April 03, 2006 @11:49PM (#15055409)
    Funny that that high ranking exec was from Universal Studios.... now where have I seen that name before. Oh yeah, front and center on the HD-DVD roster!

    Is it not simply sad to see a high ranking executive reduced to trash talking? How desperate is he?
  • ...It's a small disc that holds 1.8GB of data...this is more than the physically larger in diameter disc that nintendo uses (1.5GB) in their gamecube. When the system came out flash memory wasn't available at a resonable price - and actually, you still can't find a 2GB cf or sd card for $50 I don't think. So, for a game system, which is normally propriotary anyway, I'm not sure it was such a bad idea. Also, since the psp does have excellent hardware mpeg4 playback why not make movies for the thing since
  • Let's see, various unsuccessful SONY formats (YMMV):

    • BETA MAX
    • UMD
    • Memory Stick (yeah it's still out there, but it's going to go away!)
    • Mini-disc

    Then consider the one resounding industry success for which SONY was co-inventor -- the Compact Disk! The Compact Disk has been one of the most astounding success stories, though is now probably nearing its sunset years.

    Oh, and what has SONY done around Compact Disk? Yeah, started issuing corrupt CDs (that don't even qualify to have the CD logo) with malware i

  • Thousands left without paychecks. Meanwhile the managers who were wrong shrugged and ordered lobster.

    In other news, a Smithsonian archaeology exhibit featuring the "capitalistic free market" will be opened later this week...

  • Somebody make an ipod clone with 802.11 mesh network and PTP capability. Proceed to make millions. It wouldn't even need the software right off the bat.. the market will fill the void.

    Whoever puts this one out first with a slick interface to share music en route is going to make a lot of money. Then they can use that to thwart the **AA's of the world.

    I had high hopes when I picked up the PSP, then I flipped it around, saw the stupid UMD drive, went 'oh', and put it right back on the shelf - where it will be
  • Quality was OK, but not great. I noticed a lot of MPEG artefacts in Spider Man 2 - distracting at times, and some even in House of Flying Daggers. I still found the quality good enough to watch (the screen is BEAUTIFUL), but not good enough to justify the price of the movies.

    The last movie I bought was Time Bandits and I never even watched it. I love that film but the time and place to have a good movie watching experience on PSP is basically a quiet dark room by yourself. As a father and husband that isn

  • by John Pfeiffer ( 454131 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @12:31AM (#15055559) Homepage
    UMD is not dying, UMD _movies_ are. And when I say UMD _movies_ I mean _US/UK_ UMD movies.

    And with good reason. No one's going to pay $25 for a movie they already have in a higher quality format, when they can just rip their DVD and transcode it for PSP playback. UMD video probably isn't going to fail as spectacularly in Japan though, where most of the time, you can get a UMD _with_ your DVD purchase (For a little extra) I should know, I have a couple. And I certainly wouldn't have bought them seperately, since I could have just as easily put my videos on the memstick for free (Though that is one of the two advantages of UMD video; it's encoded better than you could possibly do transcoding, and it doesn't take up any space on your memory stick.) As for this 'cavalcade of failed Sony formats'... Seriously, drink the koolaid. No one else is buying that crap.

    Betamax? Still the top choice for many professional video applications.

    Minidisc? While MP3 players have their advantages, the latest generation of MD player/recorders are still going strong, even outside of Japan. Also, minidisc recorders are pretty much the #1 device for bootlegging live performances for its blend of small size, and high fidelity.

    Blu-Ray? Let's skip past the part where it ISN'T EVEN OUT YET, and get down to the facts. The Playstation 2 cemented DVD in Japan. It hadn't caught on until then, they were still using VCD! So, considering that the Xbox 360 had such an abysmal launch (Usually what happens when your product can't withstand the rigors of...well, WORKING), which do you think is going to win in Japan? HD-DVD, or Blu-Ray? And don't forget, a growing constituency in the US and abroad care more about the outcome of that battle than what format Universal is going to put their latest summer blockbusting crapfest on.

    UMD was about putting software in the PSP, first and foremost. The fact that they never had plans to manufacture anything ELSE to play UMDs should speak for itself.
  • The UMD plater is itself the same size as a Minidisc platter. They both come in protective plastic cases. What Sony should have done is used HiMD as the hardware format and used a special video codec to store video playable on PSP. They could have made PSP's able to play audio off the discs just like any Minidisc deck (hey, a way to help bolster the MD format!). Plus they could have released a ripper for converting DVD's to the discs (since MD disks are not read-only).

    But that would have stopped any plans f
  • by elronxenu ( 117773 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @02:03AM (#15055842) Homepage
    Funny that only 6 months ago The Inquirer [] wrote a glowing article of praise for how strongly the UMD format was going.

    Here's the article: Sony's UMD format breaks through to the mainstream [].

    I can't help but laugh at some of the things the author wrote:

    DESPITE THE FACT that movies on Sonys proprietary UMD format for the PSP are costing more than their DVD counterparts, the format is becoming extremely popular with both the consumer and Hollywood, with the high-prices being a good thing as far as studio execs are concerned.

    Apparently "extremely popular" is weasel-words for "we will hype the format now and abandon in 6 months".

    The high unit costs of the format mean that it does not directly compete with DVDs, meaning that the consumer will pay through the nose and the situation is win-win for the studios.

    Wow, customers must really appreciate paying through the nose for a UMD, and this can only be good for the studios! (note: this is an example of Irony []).

    The Inquirer article even quotes a Newsweek article, PlayStation Portable - New Format for Hollywood [], which is less glowing but was clearly the only source of information for the Inquirer author.

    Even Newsweek can see the rorting going on with UMD but they seem to not have a problem with it, as they tell of the studios "milking their catalogs" as if that's a good thing.

  • The Reason Why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheLogster ( 617383 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @06:43AM (#15056492) Homepage Journal
    Sony - "Hey lets make everyone buy two copies of a movie one on DVD and the other on UMD"

    Consumer - "What ?! The PSP has no facility to play a UMD movie and output in a TV?! Well screw buying two copies - I'll buy the DVD, rip it, put it on a memory stick, and still get to watch it on my PSP"

    Enough said really.
    • Greed killed UMD (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) *
      If Sony wanted to make UMD's popular, they would have included for free a copy of UMD movies with every DVD purchase. Do that for a year or two until they get people interested in the format. Then come out with stand-alone UMD players to connect to TV sets. Agressively market the design (i.e. give it away for almost nothing) for 3rd party players.

      Instead, they came up with a format that was only playable on an overpriced game system then charged $20-25 for UMD disks that could be purchased on DVD for $12
  • by aonaran ( 15651 ) on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @09:23AM (#15057080) Homepage
    If they had added a UMD slot to the PS3 they could have kept it alive, even if the PS3 UMD slot only played movies not PSP games.
    They chose not to do that and so now they have to live with that choice.
    I was ready to buy into UMD as a portable movie/game format until they announced that PS3 would NOT have a slot.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."