Tales from the Future #1

I was having a discussion with someone over IRC today (his name is Mal Franks, and he is Wrong), with regards to HD film formats, and it escalated to me predicting the future for technology in general. As is common, I’m sure. So profound were my statements, that I thought it best to publish them here so that in ten or twenty years time people can look back at what I wrote and say I was better than Nostradamus. Or something.

Neither HD-DVD or Blu-Ray will win the HD video format war

This is for two reasons:

  1. because electronically downloaded content will get in there first. Just look at how popular downloadable music is now. With Apple, Microsoft and Sony all pushing for downloadable video content, and no doubt others following suit, why buy a disc at all?
  2. because, in general, people don’t see the benefit of of high definition video discs over standard DVDs. The picture quality is better, sure, but only if you’ve got the kit (or the money to buy the kit). The leap isn’t the same as that from VHS to DVD, where you also gained extra content, extra audio tracks, subtitles, chapters, games, no need for fast-forward or rewind, smaller size for storage, and easy home-creation. The only advantages of HD discs over DVD are the quality and the fact you can stick more TV episodes on one disc. Great.

Music albums will cease to exist

With the advent of downloadable music tracks, consumers get to pick and choose those songs they wish to hear. If they don’t like Track 10 on Stop the Clocks, they don’t download it and therefore, don’t pay for it. If people are going to only download what they actually want, why create an album? Why not just release tracks, as and when? Even albums that have “linked” tracks, be it by theme or whatever, are already pretty much broken due to most people listening to their music player on random, losing the track-to-track coherence anyway.

“Next-Gen” consoles will have games available for download as the primary distribution method

That is, the generation of consoles after the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360. Remember the Infineon Labs Phantom? Genius, and way before its time. Its time that never came, in fact. But look at what it sparked: Steam, the Wii’s Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade, and the PS3 Download Store. All three current consoles, and the PC, have game download mechanisms, but none (at the moment) use it as the main way of acquiring games. But why not? Next-Gen will see this reversed – you’ll still be able to get games on disc in the shops, but you’ll also be able to get them more quickly, and more cheaply, via a download. And the generation after that? Download only.

3 thoughts on “Tales from the Future #1”

  1. Nice thoughts. Great site

    Just something to think about.
    What about people who are really into their movies but aren’t gamers?

    Are they really going to buy an XBox 360/PS3 just for downloadable content?

    I do think the format war is ridiculous what i think will probably happen is we’ll see hardware released that can deal with both formats. Just look at the recordable DVD format “war” as an example

  2. I didn’t really think through specifics, more trends. I don’t think they will buy Xboxes or PS3s for downloadable content, but you have to look at things like media centre PCs – they used to be just that: PCs. Now you get media centres which are just a HD and some video connectors. PCs drove the market, then companies made specific gadgets.

    Also, Toshiba already have a dual format HD-DVD/BR player available, apparently.

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