Sony’s UMD format ailing: ‘It’s another Sony bomb – like Blu-ray,’ says Universal Studios exec

“A year after it was launched in the US, the PlayStation Portable’s days as a hand-held movie-viewing device appear numbered. Disappointing sales have slowed the flow of movies on the proprietary Universal Media Disc to a mere trickle. At least two major studios have completely stopped releasing movies on UMD, while others are either toying with the idea or drastically cutting back,” Thomas Arnold reports for Australian IT. “And retailers also are cutting the amount of shelf space they’ve been devoting to UMD movies, amid talk that Wal-Mart is about to dump the category entirely.”

“Wal-Mart representative Jolanda Stewart declined comment on reports that the retailer was getting out of the UMD business. But studio sources said such a move was imminent. A check of a Wal-Mart store in Santa Ana, California, revealed a drastic shrinkage of UMD inventory. Several shelves of movies in the PSP section were gone; all that remained were seven UMD titles sitting bookshelf-style on the top of the PSP section, with no prices or other information,” Arnold reports. “Universal Studios Home Entertainment had stopped producing UMD movies, according to executives who asked not to be identified by name. ‘It’s awful. Sales are near zilch. It’s another Sony bomb – like Blu-ray,’ one executive said.”

MacDailyNews Note: Universal backs HD DVD, a lower capacity rival to Blu-ray (30Gb dual layer vs. 50GB dual layer respectively), along with Microsoft, Toshiba and others. Blu-ray is hardly a “bomb.” That’s just some plain ol’ FUD from Universal. The next-gen DVD war hasn’t even started, yet. Apple is playing both sides of the fence in a wait and see mode. According to a press release from April 17, 2005, “Apple is committed to both emerging high definition DVD standards—Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD. Apple is an active member of the DVD Forum which developed the HD DVD standard, and last month joined the Board of Directors of the Blu-ray Disc Association.”

Arnold continues, “‘No one’s watching movies on PSP,’ said the president of one of the six major studios’ home entertainment divisions. ‘It’s a game player, period.’ Observers speculated that the studios released too many movies, too fast. But while sales were initially strong – two Sony Pictures titles even crossed the 100,000-unit threshold after just two months – the novelty quickly wore off, observers say. The arrival last fall of Apple’s video iPod only hastened the PSP’s decline as a movie-watching platform… But next week, Sony Computer Entertainment executives will begin making the rounds of the Hollywood studios to discuss plans for making the PSP able to connect to TV sets.”

Full article here.

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Related articles:
Blu-Ray or HD DVD? – March 10, 2006
Broadcom announces decoder chip that plays both Blu-ray and HD DVD – January 03, 2006
Forrester Research: Apple-backed Blu-ray will win over Microsoft-backed HD DVD – October 20, 2005
BusinessWeek: ‘it looks as if HD DVD’s days are numbered’ – October 07, 2005
China to develop own as-yet-unnamed DVD format; Blu-ray vs. HD DVD vs ? – October 07, 2005
Paramount’s decision gives Blu-ray slight lead over HD DVD in next gen DVD format war – October 04, 2005
Record set straight on Blu-ray Disc Association’s superior high definition format – September 29, 2005
Microsoft backs cheaper, less sophisticated, lower capacity HD DVD over Apple-backed Blu-ray format – September 27, 2005
Twentieth Century Fox joins Apple, Dell, HP, others to support Blu-ray Disc format – July 29, 2005
Poll shows Apple-backed Blu-ray preferred by consumers over HD DVD for next-gen DVD standard – July 14, 2005
Microsoft allies with Toshiba on HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray Disc backers Apple and Sony – June 27, 2005
Apple joins Blu-ray Disc Association Board of Directors – March 10, 2005


  1. “UMD? What the heck is it?”

    UMD is Universal MacDude syndrome. The unbelievable reaction that some people have when a long abusive relationship finally ends. The person who has been abused has a hard time relating to the new paradigm of freedom and longs for the old days of servitude and slavery, abuse and torture.


    Try watching a full length 2hr plus movie on your Mobile Phone & iPod. Can you?

    For short film may be yes. But for full length, like Lord of the Rings? I

    I ever tried watching KungFu Hustler on Nokia Phone, after 5minutes, I give up. It’s more stressed than fun wathing on the tiny witty screen. If you really want to watch a full length movie, go home, watch it on your big TV, or monitor!

  3. the PSP is a game player???

    this is totally uninformed crap.. are you serious?? the thing has no games..

    get a DS . seriously..

    The PSP is a total dud because it tries to do 234 different things. ie. It DOES play movies.. but the games are shite.

  4. I don’t think it’s so much that movies are unwatchable on a PSP but rather that buying PSP specific media (UMD) is the problem.

    If you could download movies online and upload them to a PSP/iPod, stream them to a TV or simply watch them on a computer, I’m sure that would be far more successful.

    Sony just don’t get it. Media is dead.

  5. Yeh-heh-hehesssssss, I love it! Actually, I really can’t stand one part of this piece. From de second paragraph:

    “Drastic shrinkage”.

    Come onnnnn, Tommy! You gotta write with a little more sensitivity to those of us who recently swam in cold water. Or were frightened. Or accidently saw Joan Rivers nude.

    Hey, look, it was before my interview in her trailer. I got there early. I saw too much. What can I say?

    Lesson learned.

  6. … and yet it seems Microsoft want to go exactly the same way with their portable, media, gaming, communication, video, computing, take over the world device which rather oddly is supposedly aimed at displacing the iPod, but then didn’t they say that the PSP was that too? One does wonder at times whether it is that Apple (SJ) is so good at getting it so right as much as the opposition getting it so badly wrong, not too difficult to percieve perhaps with doughboy Bulmer and Mr Charisma himself Bill Gates.

    Doing a few things right in a very flexible manner is so much better than doing loads of things badly and inflexibly with all the extra overheads that entails too, and that despite Apple tying it somewhat to their own infrastructure.

  7. First of all I like Sony, the PS3 should be a great addition to my home, but alas, the PSP has failed to create any real hype… Nintendo has and will always rule the portable gaming market. The DS is outselling PSPs insanely… Especially since Nintedo introduced the DS lite!!

    DS is the future, PSP is… lacking?

  8. It’s DRM that’s the problem – as the main studios, labels, Microsoft etc are discovering. It would be a huge problem for Apple too if they weren’t first in on the game.

    The only way all these companies can beat Apple (and they sorely want too!) is to get rid of DRM (at least as it currently works). They’ll realise it sooner or later and act.

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