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Blu-Ray may be the shortest lived, most irrelevant format ever

Posted by joconner on January 7, 2009 at 12:38 AM PST

This week's poll asks the question "What was the most important Java news of 2008?" One of the optional answers is "Blu-Ray wins format war." That's a reasonable option I suppose. Tthe Java community should definitely be happy that Java plays a role in the Blu-Ray technology space by being in many or most (all?) of the players. However, that important news may have a very, very short shelf life. I'm not so positive that Blu-Ray will even be around in another couple years. Maybe Blu-Ray technology is utterly irrelevant, and maybe Java's role there is irrelevant too.

I think the pay-per-view business model is getting stronger, not weaker. In a world in which content resides out there in the internet cloud and just streams to me on demand, why do I want or need Blu-Ray? Blu-Ray is a storage/representation format right? OK, but why do I as a consumer need to care. I don't really care what format "The Matrix" is in when it streams across to play on my High Def screen or monitor. I just want it to be sharp, crisp...and preferably not on any physical media that gets scratched or lost around my home..

Google, Yahoo and others ALREADY host a lot of my content, including email, to-do lists, calendars, etc. Other companies DISH or DirectTV or NetFlix offer me movies on-demand over the internet. Should I care about Blu-Ray? I don't know. Do NetFlix and other online content providers use Blu-Ray to store the movies that I buy (or rent)? Seems irrelevant to me for the most part.

I see a day -- not too far away -- in which I won't have my shelf of music CDs, movie DVDs, or even movie Blu-Ray discs. I already rip my music and store it on a local server. I'm only one step away from storing it on someone else's server, accessible to me anywhere on the internet. Music is sooo close to that point now...there's almost no reason to keep a CD anymore. And therefore there's almost no reason to have a CD player. In the same way, I might never need a Blu-Ray player because I'll never have Blu-Ray media...

I'm just speculating here, but maybe Blu-Ray is just an excellent technology that's just a little too late. I'm looking for ways to move all my content elsewhere, accessible to me from anywhere. How does Blu-Ray help in this situation?

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Blue Ray has a number of possibilities, check out

What are you going to buy your loved ones for birthdays and Christmas if DVD and BluRay disappear? Sometimes us humans like to have something physical ;-)

pay-per-view? I don't want to pay 3 times for a movie that I watch this evening, my kid watches tomorrow morning and my wife watches tomorrow afternoon.

1. Do you really want to stream 20GB of data everytime you want to watch your a movie or play a game. 2. Esp. if this data is coming over the internet with more and more providers capping bandwidth. 3. Streaming movies are just not HD. Not Netflix, not anything else. 4. What about people who don't have high speed internet 5. What about DRM? DRM will be there on media. But if I have a physical disk, I can play my stuff, if it is all stored on a hard drive, or online, who knows. I just lost my only copy of Windows and am surrentlt Linux only. Guess who just lost about $500 worth of content. 6. Ownership. If I want to sell some movies or games after I am done with them, I can, I can gift them etc. With streaming or HDD based solutions, this is not possible. 7. I don't think our internet today can deal with mass HD streaming at all. 8. Why would you want to replace your existing content when upscaling is available? And BD prices are coming down, check amazon, they have guy 1 get 1 free and all sorts of things. 9. Look up how much people used to pay for DVD's when they first came out.

peter__lawrey, broadband + good computer is basically unfordable for the majority of the world population :) When you claim you have your content on your desktop, you are just assuming your way of life reflects the global reality.. but when you think about technologies and market, you should grasp on the reality .. otherwise it is just an epistemic inconsistency :)

watching HD movies online is like compressing a bluray movie to vcd...

I am afraid I have to disagree with you with regard to the lifespan of the BluRay technology. Your first point about people gradually migrating their own content to the Internet and content providers slowly doing the same is only really applicable if (or indeed, when) the Internet is globally available to as many people as possible. We know this isn't true. And we know that this will not be true for a good while yet. Just because you happen to live in a part of the world where this privilege is taken for granted does not mean that it applies everywhere. Also, the network infrastructure needed to allow everybody with a television set to stream their content over the Internet without lose of quality is simple not there. Anybody who has tried to watch a show on BBCs iPlayer over a standard broadband connection in a reasonable large town in the UK will report the same blocky, choppy, low resolution experience that I know many of my friends and colleagues have had. I notice that you mention ripping your music collection to store on your server. This is something I also do, as it allows me to let anybody on my network to listen to my music collection. But you still buy the songs on disc it would seem. Maybe you share my belief in having a backup to play on an actual CD player should your ISP decide to cut you off or the Internet suffer a catastophic failure. I still by DVDs and BluRay disc for the same reason. I can rip my DVDs to re-encode and watch on my PSP during the daily commute, but I do like to have a actual disc that I can use as a backup. In fact this leads me to another point which I think is worth mentioning... why bother to store your data on somebody elses server at all? Your data is, or at least should be, personal and valuable to you. Without a decent SLA, which the public don't usually get from Internet sites or providers, how can you gaurentee that you will have access to your data? The only sure way is to keep it yourself. And as for some commenters making points about people replacing their back catalogue of DVDs with BluRay discs, I have to ask why. BluRay players are perfectly capable of upscaling DVDs quite well meaning you can get plenty of pleasure from your old collection for many years to come. Only replace the ones which you watch frequently or that you really need to have in HD. In summary, until the time comes when we can distribute high quality video and audio content quickly and reliably, hardcopies will be necessary. And the is no reason why BluRay cannot fill this gap for now. That being said, tearing down BluRay does seem to be the cool thing to do these days. I don't think you can earn your blogger badge without one article about how BluRay is a redundant technology.

I have to agree with John's assessment of Blu-Ray technology as being pointless, at least for the masses. Sure, for some video/gaming-philes, Blu-Ray is probably great. But for just about everyone else, the benefits do not outweigh the cost of upgrading from standard DVDs. It would cost a small fortune to replace most peoples' existing libraries with Blu-Ray discs at $20-30+/each. The future is definitely streaming media content. How much time will elapse before this becomes mainstream for the average person, I'd say at least another 3-5 years. I've been telling family & friends to wait, as broadband/wireless connectivity improves, there will be a shift towards streaming content, and it doesn't make sense to invest in a format that will be obsolete far more quickly than DVD. That's not to say that digital content does not have its own set of problems. As samkass pointed out, there are going to be bandwidth and DRM issues.

I haven't had a TV for more than a year now, but I do have 5 computers. I get all my "TV" from iplayer which streams or downloads most of the BBCs contents up to a week after it was broadcast. Free and legal.

The term "HD" is probably the most over-used term of 2008. Yes, the stuff you download displays at 1080 rasters and is encoded with H.264/AAC. But if you only have 1/20th the bandwidth, you only get 1/20th the quality. It's true that a lot of people won't care, but as Blu-Ray players go everywhere from portable to in-car entertainment what format do you want it in? You can re-sell your disc or bring it to a friend's house. Digital distribution has come a long way, but it's still a lot less convenient and a lot lower quality than Blu-Ray. I look forward to the day when I can have a truly high-quality HD picture streamed from my home server to my TV, my friend's TV, or downloaded to my car's media server. But right now you tend to get a low-quality, DRM-encoded, locked-down, incompatible mess with online video distribution.

For video games. Because you do not want to download 50 GB each time that you play a video game. Better movies with better resolution, not with the Flash resolution and so on.

in rich countries, the proportion can be 1 computer for 3 TVS... but in the third world (80% of global population), this proportion decays to 1:50 :) think about it....

TV programming is the most wanted revolution this times.. a chance for us to definitely rid off browsers.. eheh but it is just a speculation, as any others.. if BlueRay make sense or not, doesn't matter.. but TV is more present in global community than computers, and if we can push the internet inside TV and give the developers a productive way to program it, then we can dream with a world free of browsers :) ok, dominated by TV protocols and implementations anyway, but at least we have a chance to make it better this time........ 20 years of obsolete html is enough :)