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Archive for the ‘Warner Music’ Category

By now you’ve read about Warner Bros. Entertainment announcement to drop HD DVD and focus on Blu-ray, a Sony Corp. backed technology vs. rival Toshiba.  Warner was the last major studio to put out movies in both formats and after May they will exclusively release on Blu-ray. 

The announcement by Warner rattled the industry nerves to the point that the N.A. HD DVD Promotional Group (which included Intel and Microsoft) canceled a major media event.  Who would blame them?   It’s not the kind of exciting news for what’s to come in 2008! 

I predicted Sony would not allow the “Betamax” struggle to repeat and that Blu-ray would prevail (HERE).  No need to bore you with the technology advantages of each format.  Ironically HD DVD has better interactivity today than Blu-ray, but that will evolve with BD Live.  I also observed evidence of a move of desperation during the holiday season when Toshiba HD DVD players flooded the market at $179.99.  Then Sony countered and jumped on the price discounting wagon with their BDP-S300 (entry level player) at Costco for $278.99 after a $100 rebate.  A $100 premium and never mind it didn’t support 7.1 audio. 

So what will Microsoft do now?  Speaking to Reuters, Albert Penello, group marketing manager for Xbox hardware, said in response to a question about Microsoft possibly supporting a Blu-ray accessory if HD DVD failed that they would consider it.  According to Engadget during holiday ’07 consumers purchased 92K HD DVD players for the xBox 360.   I believe Microsoft really wants the market to shift to digital download (aligns with xBox 360 content download service and their xBox 360 IPTV directions) and the format war was likely viewed as a gift which stalled adoption, create consumer confusion while digital download services improve. 

What is really important to most consumers is that the Warner announcement translates to the release of more movies which we want to watch (rent/buy) in stunning hi-def.  Now that the format battle is over I can plan on the Blu-ray release of Lord of the Rings (LOTR).  New Line (parent Time-Warner) will make this happen in ’08. 

And if all this wasn’t enough good news for the week, Sony demoed at CES the “next generation” of portable cinema viewing.  Samples of Blu-ray movies were successfully copied from a PlayStation 3 Blu-ray drive to a PlayStation Portable’s memory stick, as part of Sony’s new web-oriented service/approach to interactivity and play anywhere portability known as BD Live.  Other abilities include ring tone downloading and other media content to a BD Live media player.  One issue is that current Blu-ray players in the market (including the PS3) do not support BD-Live, but Sony confirmed the PS3 firmware update will be rolling out as early as this month to incorporate BD-Live playback into the system.

Now if Universal and Paramount can see that it makes sense (or is that $cents) to move to Blu-ray we’d be all set for a great hi-def year!

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Hardly a day streams by that someone in the music industry doesn’t pontificate that “billions” have been ripped off by music users…as example:

Universal Music CEO, Doug Morris “These devices (reference to iPod) are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it”… from a press gather on why they charge a royalty of $1 for every Zune hardware device sold and distributing half of those profits equally to it artists.

Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer “Most people still steal music,”…”we can build the technology, but there are still ways for people to steal music”…at a London press gathering on a number of issues Ballmer takes a swipe and bills Microsoft as the good guys and Apple the villains. [I wonder if this includes Ballmer’s 12 year old son?!]

I’m not sure how you feel, but I don’t appreciate being called a thief. I own every CD that I’ve ripped on my computer/iPod and have saved the e-receipts of songs/videos purchased from iTunes.

Clearly Steve is mimicking those TV ads while proving the doofus image! We all know they have a vested interest in making the Zune device/service successful. But, Steve let’s call it like it is. The larger battle here is to indoctrinate consumers into Apples or Microsoft’s universe so, bashing is their call to action given the luke warm Zune reviews.

Hey, if an ol duffer like me bought an iPod (and I did) and if I not only loved the product, but the ease of use and terrific design (and I did), then I might buy more for family and friends (and I did), then I might start thinking about buying other, larger Apple products, like a desktop computer now that my old PC balks at security patches (and I did).

I’m starting to think I know this computer stuff. For Christmas I want to send the Steve/Doug “duo” copies of Steal This File Sharing Book. The book is a clever turn of title phrasing nodding to the old Abbie Hoffman book from the 1960’s. The book highlights legal grey areas, identifies popular methods of sharing files, and then digs into the meat of the subject, which is the collection of tips on legal file sharing, outlining a clear path to avoid legal question marks and lawsuits.

To be fair and I was quick to believe the Zune would tank, it’s now ranked no. 2 according to NPD stats released on November 30th. The Zune supplanted SanDisk’s Sansa no.2 spot with 9% unit sales and 13% of total dollar share during the first week of sales. The iPod continues as no. 1 with 63% unit and 72.5% of the dollar share.

Excuse me while I put my black t-shirt on as I’m feeling the pull of the white façade of the Apple store and a need to talk with a friendly sales clerk who doesn’t know how to post on GooTube either.

UPDATE:
Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman made a startling admission when he sat down for a Second Life interview with Reuters: his kids have pirated music. Well, they’ve probably pirated music—Bronfman doesn’t sound too sure.

I’m fairly certain that they have, and I’m fairly certain that they’ve suffered the consequences,” he said, though he later confirmed that he had caught at least one Bronfman child using P2P software.

I’m sure his kids were forced to cough up thousands of dollars to the RIAA to keep from getting sued. Yeah, right!

This just proves the point that “normal” young people consider file-swapping to be…well, uhmmm it’s a NORMAL way of checking out digital media. When your dad runs one of the largest music labels on the planet and you still turn to P2P networks to discover new tunes, it’s clear that the issue isn’t just lack of access to music. Or money.

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