Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This week in CE Pro: What's really going on with Blu-ray and HD-DVD?

This week's article is now online:

CE Pro: Manufacturer's Reps Reporting Little Interest in Blu-ray, HD DVD

It would appear that I never get tired of beating this horse.

I was a little dissapointed that the three manufacturer's reps declined to be cited, preferring anonymity, even though nothing any of them said was especially controversial. In the case of the corporate guys I understand and respect that they aren't authorized to speak to the media. However, one of my contacts is an independent agent, but on the other hand, you don't want to come out and say something that may come back to haunt you later when the manufacturer you rep for changes their tune.

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Flatland Pastor said...

I think I may have made a similar observation to this before but I'll go again if only to ride one of my own personal hobby horses. In the 70's, 80's and even part of the 90's the excitement in Hi-Fi and video wasn't entirely generated by who new classes of products but by innovations that improved the potential and performance of current gear. Unlike the computer industry that promised unlimited upgradability but ended up only offering whole system replacement as a viable alternative, the A/V industry was - until recently - the ultimate upgrade world. Enthusiasts could plan the steady improvement of their systems through careful choices of components that would enhance the overall performance of their systems and - more importantly - unlock untapped potential in their media.

Gone are the days - for most people - when upgrading to a better phono cartridge meant rediscovering your entire album collection. Nowadays this type of experience is rare and most consumers are unfamiliar with the concept of "growing" a system. The constant pressure of wholesale format changes looming on the horizon and the often wholesale upgrading of entire systems needed to realize the potential of a new format like high definition DVD forces people to seek either "one box" solutions or to simply ignore the newest formats. There is no area of possible transition when one's entire software collection is in jeopardy of becoming obsolete.

As an aside, is it any wonder that piracy, downloading and file sharing are growing exponentially when the industry itself sends the message to the consumer that their investment in software is worthless because the industry is going to introduce a new format? Why should the consumer value investing in software when the industry regularly demolishes the consumer's investment?

The combined short sightedness of both the hardware and software manufacturers and distributors has created the current malaise in the buying public. This is reflected in the current dearth of magazines available for A/V enthusiasts. In the most recent direct mail offering to me from Publishers' Clearing House of the over 100 magazine titles they offered to me only two (Consumer Reports and Popular Science) held out the possibility of containing articles from time to time about the A/V industry.

A/V equipment is no longer the domain of the hobbyist and enthusiast - except in increasingly shrinking and isolated pockets. A/V equipment is no longer a luxury that enhances our lives it has become an appliance that is required in our homes. As such, we cannot be faulted for being less than enthusiastic when we are offered a brand new appliance to purchase. After all, that new dishwasher may be the technological "bomb" of all dishwashers, but mine is working fine, thank you very much. And I dare say we are becoming just as enthusiastic/ambivalent about new A/V gear.

Charles Farley said...

"A/V equipment is no longer a luxury that enhances our lives it has become an appliance that is required in our homes."

That is a most excellent statement. The connoisseur appreciates the nuance discovered, the appliance operator is amused by all of the buttons.

Charles Farley.