Blu-Ray, HD DVD format war

A classic example of big corporate greed being bad for the consumer is the battle between the new high definition DVD formats, Blu-Ray and HD DVD. This on’e been going on for a while but with both formats now becoming more widely available, the consumer is starting to see the downsides. The consumer is being used by the corporate world, in this case specifically Sony and Toshiba, to decide who wins a monumental fight involving billions of dollars of investment in this new technology. Now that the heat is building up, and one side or the other faces losing, it’s interesting to read that Sony’s CEO wishes that it had never come to this. Naturally, his company will likely go bust if his bet on Blu-Ray and the PS3 doesn’t work out. The PS3 is on shaky ground based on the competition from the Nintendo Wii, and if the console doesn’t start selling in huge numbers in the run up to the holiday season Blu-Ray could be in trouble. Why ? Because the vast majority of Blu-Ray players are, you guessed it, built into the PS3.

It’s an interesting story, one you can read a lot more about on WikiPedia, but in the end it’s going to be a very costly investment in a dead technology and in the meantime, it’s you and I – Joe Schmoe Consumer, that will be in the middle of this massive format war.

Apple Gripe

I really admire Apple’s products, their design, their marketing, the success the company has had in recent years since being on the verge of going bust. They have (or maybe I should say Steve Jobs has) completely turned around the company since coming out with their recent line of Mac computers, Mac OSX and most notably the iPod and iTunes.

While I admire their strategy, applaud their successes, and genuinely love their Mac computers, operating system and iPod range I have one small issue with them. They are beginning to take over the world when it comes to personal music devices. And I don’t like that. Monopolies are bad for the industry, they’re bad for innovation, and they’re bad for consumers.

A recent article published by PC World entitled “Is Apple the New Microsoft?” sums it up nicely as far as I’m concerned. While some of the arguments are a little over the top (Apple aren’t forcing OEM manufacturers to ship their hardware or software), the general jist is true – iPods only work with iTunes. iTunes only works with iPods. Every track ever bought on iTunes will only ever work with an iPod, despite any wishes on the consumers part to buy a Zune, or a Creative Zen Touh, or a …

(ok so maybe the above point doesn’t hold true for me or my peers as the majority of our music is ripped or downloaded from … um … other places, but for the average joe – the guy who isn’t computer-literate, but thanks to his friends or kids can use iTunes – then this applies)

Like the author of the above article said, I’d like to see Apple broaden the support of its hardware and software out to other players – for the benefit of consumers. Allow iTunes to work with any media player. Allow the iPod to play with any music management software. If their products are that good they have nothing to fear and stand to gain from such a move. However, I don’t see this happening anytime soon. As fluffy and cool as their marketing is, the goal of this company, as with any other, is to grow market share and their stock price – not benefit consumers for the good of it.