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Kids, Gaming and Hollywood Cries Poor

by The DVD Insider March 28, 2005
Kids - The Multitaskers

The computers, the phones…it is all about kids. Ordinary people can't (don't) use 20% of their computing power. Regular folks don't run around taking pictures with their camphones and IM only occasionally. They couldn't program the VCR so what makes engineers believe they can program a PVR?

It's the kids that have the gadgets and they use them…all! Their entire room is a multimedia center. Spinning the yarn about the home entertainment solution sounds fantastic but reality seems to be the same as corporate IT departments attempting to develop the utopia of backing up everything on the network and recentralizing company data (remember we used to have mainframes and terminals, not hundreds of PC islands)…it's a great idea but my data/content is different, special!!"

It won't happen.

According to a recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation they use all the things we buy for them - TV, videos, music, videogames, computers, cameras and more. Kaiser found that they cram more media content into an hour than we ever thought we needed. They watch a lot of TV (regular and recorded), listen to music, use their computers on-line and off-line, play videogames, read and watch movies and do much of it at the same time.

And that multitasking also includes hanging with the parents, talking on the phone (surprise!!), physical activities, hobbies, schoolwork and chores. Added to that is being in school, commuting and sleeping. BAM!!!! They suddenly packed 27.5 hours in a 24-hour day.

Maybe - just maybe - kids aren't so bad. Just a little busy. A little preoccupied digesting their content. If only they could expand their multitasking to cleaning their rooms!!!

Time for the Big Game

[SonyPSP] Forget about the NCAA's big hoopla about March Madness. We're talking about a serious game that is measured in billions of dollars of sales and hundreds of millions of dollars in sales.

The battle of the titans is between long-time leader and apparent underdog Nintendo and home player, come from behind Sony.

In typical fashion Sony has whipped the market (and media) into a feeding frenzy to get ahold of the new PSP (Figure 2). And yes it's a pretty good portable game system.

It is "almost" as good as the Atari Lynx we helped the Trameils launch eons ago. In 1989 it had an insanely great color display. It had some of the best games available like Ms Pac-Man, Roadblaster, Gates of Zendocon, Blue Lighting, Slime World and more. Surprisingly, the system still has a huge loyal following of men and women who develop and trade games. There's a whole underground of people who repair and nurse systems back to health.

[atarilynx] Granted the Lynx didn't (and doesn't) have games you can play with 10-100 of your close, personal friends around the globe. But you pull one of those little suckers out - even today - and you can draw a crowd of young and old alike. That's because it was a game system…not a world of entertainment.

In addition, how do you get all of those other gamers to join in? Send out a game rendezvous message from your WiFi Sony Vaio? Or call them on your all-in-one Samsung or Sanyo cellphone?

Just as with ultralite notebooks, DVD burners/recorders and cam/message/video/cellphones, once the initial "new and sexy" has worn off it's all about the software. If more people are designing for Microsoft and the XBox than for Sony and the PS2 there will be fewer options for died-in-the-wool gamers and their portables.

Rather than their Universal Media Disc (UMD) for their movies (2 ½-in cartridge disc with no write-once or rewritable media in the offing) why didn't they do what some of the studios are doing and use miniDVD technology that already is widely available? Simple, it would cut down on their control, their royalties.

Of course you can also use the PSP as a slightly bulky music and photo player…as long as you use their proprietary memory stick format rather than SD or even their regular memory stick. The Sony Hydra still doesn't talk to itself so Sir Howard has his work cut out for himself.

For each generation there is a time…or in this case a game system.

But the Lynx is still a helluva system!

Kids, Gaming and Hollywood Cries Poor - page 2

Hollywood, Broadcast Speaks With Forked Tongue

Dan Glickman, who has taken over as CEO of the MPAA from Jack Valenti (Valenti is still chairman), has got to get his organization's story straight.

At ShoWest he said theater admissions had risen over the past few years.

He and the studios announced that the sale of a bunch of the movie releases on DVD have hit record numbers.

Of course that's not going to stop Jack from working behind the scenes in Washington with his old cronies to protect consumers from themselves and get legislation to protect his kingdom. And his lawyers have access to the deep pockets to "enforce" the laws of the land.

The sales were so good (super profits) that broadcasters are dusting off their old series all the way back to "The Beverly Hillbillies" for gawd sake and they are racking up millions (if not billions) in unrealized, raw profit.

Recently we "found" Fox TV's series "24" even though it's in its third season. Ok, we're a "little" slow. The wife and I like it so much she bought me the first three series on disc for our birthday. We hadn't missed missing those shows but since we have them we watch two or three when there is nothing worth watching. We can only handle two or three because we're exhausted after watching the fast-paced action drama. It's great!

She also bought us the La Femme Nikita series last Christmas. We have both watched all of the discs. We wouldn't have recorded each of either of these shows because that would have taken planning (ok we also can't figure out how to use our system's time shifting capability but that's another issue).

But all of the series developers have suddenly realized that there is a ready market for those DVDs (some large markets, some small). So they've crept back into their dark, damp vaults to mine their treasures.

Do these people really care about protecting their content when HD viewing finally comes mainstream?

They might be able to convince Congress but the rest of us?

They're making all of their money in the "after-market" arena. You know; DVD sets, theme songs as cellphone ringtones, tie-in merchandising, soundtrack albums, etc. The theater release is like slot machines in Vegas. It covers the cost and the rest is money in the bank.

While we're at it, before you do run out and buy a new HighDef set (not to be confused with HD-ready) you might want to take see what you're getting into by taking a look at www.onhd.tv. These folks are brutal in their reviews of the HD experience. After reviewing their good/bad list -- http://www.onhd.tv/thelist.htm - we've decided it probably isn't worth the $500+ to upgrade our HD-ready to full HD.

There won't be enough HD recorders/burners out there to capture their breathtaking content until 2010 according to In-Stat and IDC and even then there will be less than two percent of the total DVD burners/recorders in the market.

If we were content developers certainly we'd lust for HD/BD solutions because it does look a little better than DVD in HiDef. But the price of the HD camcorders isn't going to get down to the point that the casual videographer will be ready to join the HD revolution for years…and years…and years. These babies are designed for serious videographers who "make all the big bucks and get all the gals/guys!"

We'll find out what the most recent projections are when we attend IDC's Directions 05 conference in a few weeks. But we'll still bet that there will be container loads of $79 DVD burners and $149 DVD recorders sold over the next five years compared to whatever wins in the "we're better" Blue contest.

No matter what they tell you, 50% of the total potential market doesn't have a DVD burner or recorder yet. And even though quality DVDR and DL media like Verbatim's is remarkably affordable, the volumes are only just now catching up with CDR.