Sunday, February 26, 2006

Blu-ray vs HD-DVD: The last format war

When was the last time you burnt a CD or a DVD, except as a backup? When was the last time you worried about the space available on your CD/DVD?

With 3G telephone networks, ubiquitous WiFi/USB memory sticks, and 60GB iPods, who the hell needs a clunky disk, even if it can store a zillion movies?

I haven't burnt a CD or a DVD in a long, long time. The only reason I burn a DVD nowadays is if I need to send software to India - they still pay for downloads by the megabyte there, and airmailing a disk from here is cheaper than downloading 2GB there. Most data movements between machines and backups are done over the network or on to Flash memory or hard disks.

Blu-ray and HD-DVD are the last generation of removable media storage devices, and the only reason for their existence is movie distribution. The parallels are clear - the music CD started on its downhill course with Napster in 2001, and is pretty much on its way out in 2006 with the increase in the popularity of iPod and iTunes. Streaming movies have already started (Check out BWCinema, for example), and will probably become commonplace by 2010. The new disks won't replace DVDs at least until 2007.

So they have about 3 years to play between 2007 and 2010, and in one single market: movies.

Let's say 100M movie DVDs are sold annually in the US. If Blu-ray/HD-DVD capture 50% of that market (an ambitious estimate), that adds up to 150M over 3 years. If the companies make even $5 per disk (very optimistic estimate), that's a $750M market. I bet these companies have spent way more in research, development, production and marketing costs. I don't understand why they are fighting such a bruising format war.

Unrelated, but do you know anything about the popularity of IMAP vs. POP. I think IMAP totally and utterly sucks.
Will check and get back to you on that. I quite like IMAP (I heard about it from you, Mandar, many many years ago)...
IMAP is where the mail remains on the server and you see the same image from different machines. Useful if you have many machines and clients accessing the same server. POP is for popping mail from the server on to your local machine. Useful for people mostly using one machine.
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