Thursday, December 20, 2007

Charlie Brown's Format War

Time for year end retrospectives. PC World just published its list of top 15 tech disappointments of 2007. On the list at #2 (Windows Vista is #1) is the still unresolved Blu Ray/HD DVD format war. I agree 1000%. I just think that the war itself will be irrelevant faster than we think, for one or both of two reasons:

1.) Dual format Players, like the snazzy LG BH200. Who cares what format wins when this player reads 'em all? Once these players come down in price, which you know they will....

2.) Downloadable HD content. Bandwidth is a problem here. Compression technology is coming a long way, but compression alone isn't going to be the way out of this--it's going to be alternative technologies like bit torrent. Instead of me downloading from iTunes, I download from 100 different people simultaneously who own the same content, not from iTunes directly. The problem of bandwidth isn't the last mile, as they say. I can download HD movies faster than my bank account can buy them, and DSL/cable modem speeds are adequate, if unimpressive. The problem is the content providers--services like Amazon or iTunes can't push the content out fast enough to keep up with the demand of even a moderately successful store. One hour of HD content is about 1 GB of data. Sell 100,000 copies of Spiderman 3 in an hour and your servers are fried. The solution is to spread out the burden--give discounts to your customers who offer to serve up your content.

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