Congratulations, Sony. After flopping with Betamax, the MiniDisc, and ATRAC (your answer to MP3), it looks like you’ve finally won a format war with Blu-ray. Now get back to work — the next one is already here.
In case you missed it, late Friday, Time Warner’s (TWX) Warner Bros. said it would favour Sony’s Blu-ray hi-def disc format over Toshiba’s HD DVD format. That swung studio share in Sony’s favour and may have dealt HD DVD its death blow. Sony could get even more momentum next week if — as some anticipate — Apple’s Steve Jobs announces that his company will support Blu-ray in its products. But the WSJ reminds us that Sony’s glory may be short-lived.
Why? Before consumers have upgraded their systems for either the pricey Blu-ray or HD DVD, their replacements are already getting better. Look no further the last few days’ news: Comcast building a DVR-to-go, Microsoft bulking up its online media store, and LG building a set-top box to stream Netflix movies directly to your TV.
Hard drive storage is getting small and cheap enough — and wireless networking getting fast and easy enough — that storing movies on $25 spinning coasters just won’t be worth it. Everyone and their uncle will soon be peddling new ways to watch digital movies, including Apple, Microsoft, Cisco (via Linksys and Scientific Atlanta), Samsung, Motorola, cable/telco service providers, and yes — even Sony. Buying and renting movies on the Internet is in its infancy, but it makes much more sense than updating your movie collection to a new disc-based media format.
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