War is Over (and What That Means)!

Folks, good news to report. The next-generation DVD format wars are now officially over. Warner Brothers, which has been straddling the fence between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, has finally made the switch to exclusively supporting Blu-Ray. As one of the major Hollywood players on the DVD market, this will effectively tip the balance decisively in Sony's favor.

I've been expecting this move for some time. Blu-Ray has been consistently outselling HD-DVD by a two-to-one margin. In Japan, where all of us anime fans have been spying patiently, there was no fight at all. Blu-Ray became the standard overnight.

This is good news for all...except, of course, for anyone who purchased one of the Toshiba HD players. But if that happened to you, you should have known. This is the risk you run for being an early adopter. I should know. I'm a Sega Saturn junkie.

For my business idea, this is great news. This will enable faster adoption to the Blu-Ray standard, which will lower pressure on the need to prop up DVD. You see, my scheme involves downloading DVD-quality movies for use on any device. The Hollywood studios have been dragging their heels on this advancement, for fear of cannibalizing their DVD sales. They're right. That's my plan altogether - I have not come to praise the DVD format, but to bury it. Digital downloading will achieve just that, just as digital music destroyed the compact disc.

To defenders of the old order, this must appear to be the same thing the major record labels saw a decade ago: nothing less than the end of the world. Aw, but don't you believe them.*

The coming technology will not destroy the movie medium. Just pay a visit to iTunes or Rhapsody and look at the state of today's music. The music didn't die, and the bands didn't disappear back into their crummy day jobs. No, the amount and quality of music exploded. Millions of songs from every conceivable genre, from big-media hit to the most obscure niche, are flowing around the globe. The remarkable thing is that, no matter how rare and obscure any song may be, there will be an audience for it. The result is the greatest explosion and integration of music in history. And all of this was achieved by breaking down the old economic order.

Well, the very same thing is beginning to happen with movies. The stakes are a lot higher, since there's more money floating around, and this is why the suits are so resistent to the technology. They know fully well what will happen once everything becomes integrated...or, more fairly, they're afraid of it. They fear their own demise.

That's just absurd. The film medium is about to explode, and go global on a scale never before seen. Let me show it to you. You go online and visit my publishing website. I still don't know what exactly to call this, because it's different enough to mutate into a new species, think of it as an movie publisher that focuses on importing Japanese anime, as well as foreign animation from Europe and Russia (yes, of course Yuri Norstein is in my sights). The only catch is that, instead of the old model, where we manufacture DVD's and stock them on the shelves at Best Buy, we throw everything online. You can download movies and television episodes at iTunes, or Google Video, or Microsoft's venture, or Netflix, or Amazon, or any other of the venues.

Let's say you want to get Yuri Norstein's Hedgehog in the Fog. A wonderful, beloved classic of animation. It's also just 15 minutes long, perfect for those commutes. You purchase and download your copy, and you can then play it on any media platform you choose. iPhone, video iPod, Blackberry, mobile phone. Playstation Portable, Nintendo DS, XBox Live Marketplace, Virtual Console.**

You can watch on your computer, or burn to a disc and play on your DVD player. Watch Mind Game or Night on the Galactic Railroad on that brand-new widescreen tv. And all this will be possible with the same, singluar download.

I want the freedom to play my movies anywhere and anytime I want. I don't want any damn restrictions. I don't want some damn copy-protection scheme. I don't want to be told, no, you can only play this on the media devices we, the corporate overlords, allow.

I don't want this post to go on too long, so I'll continue with part two.

*Yeah, Bruce Hornsby reference. I always loved that song.
**Nintendo's smartest move was to eschew a DVD player for downloadable content on Wii. Once they enable enough memory space, like storage on any SD card, they'll open the doors for downloading tv shows and movies, potentially leaving Sony and Microsoft in the dust. You have no idea how potentially huge the Nintendo Wii could become.

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