Why Blu-Ray's Success (Or Failure) Doesn't Matter

Three things drove me to adopt Blu-Ray last year: first, I bought a 42" HD TV, second, the price of an internal Blu-Ray drive (~$100) has acceptable, and third (the most important), the DRM had been cracked.

One cannot argue about the superior picture that high definition movies offer, but it has been the DRM and the perceived complicated 'bag of hurt' associated with having the right combination of devices, cables, firmware, etc. to even watch them.  It is, however, not a problem at all when you can remove those complications and simply sit down and watch a movie.  You see, Blu-Ray is less about the 'HD-ness' than it is about the means employed to 'safeguard' the content that studios wish to protect.

Once you get past the locks and keys, the underlying technology (the part you watch and hear) is not that different from what is typically found on regular DVDs or other popular media formats.  In reality, at Blu-Ray's core there is really nothing new--which is why Blu-Ray's success (or failure) doesn't matter to consumers.  In the end (as long as it is ripable), Blu-Ray could suffer an untimely death and everything would be OK, simply because the video stream is portable enough to be viewed without the 'bag of hurt'.

HD-DVD could have been just as successful.  If I had been unwise enough to join the ranks of the HD format war and bought into that technology, I still wouldn't feel bad as a consumer, simply because it too had been cracked, making the video transportable to be played anywhere.

And maybe that's why the movie industry is left quivering in their boots: anti-copy protection tools defeat lock-in.  They overcome the desire from not just the studios, but the hardware makers to keep you on one platform from which they can make more money.  There's nothing intrinsically wrong with wanting that, but as a consumer it is quite frustrating to have to dance to a pretty restrictive copy protection scheme.

Long live Blu-Ray, not because there is anything cool about its format, but because the means to use it how I wish is already here.  And if you die, it will be OK because I will still not need to repurchase anything in High Definition.

Posted on Apr 24
Written by Wayne Hartman