Will DVDs survive the digital age?

“Doomsayers say DVDs are dinosaurs, but they’re dead wrong. These discs will not only make it through the digital age – they’ll thrive in it,” Chris Taylor writes for Business 2.0.

“Reports of the death of the DVD have been greatly exaggerated,” Taylor writes. “Sure, the shiny digital disks look increasingly irrelevant if you read the headlines. Industry giants like Amazon.com and Apple are going head to head in the nascent market for movie downloads. Amazon just unveiled the Unbox, and Apple’s rolling out a service that lets people watch a flick as soon as it begins to download. Apple is also trumpeting a forthcoming device, tentatively called iTV, that promises to stream movies wirelessly from computers to TVs.”

MacDailyNews Take: Amazon going head-to-head with Apple? Puleeze. Amazon’s junkbox has been universally panned:
Fortune: Amazon Unbox movie service ‘unfun,’ a horror show, two thumbs down – September 19, 2006
Amazon Unbox generates resounding yawns; analyst: ‘too little too early’ – September 11, 2006
CNET Alpha Blog: absolutely do not try Amazon Unbox – September 09, 2006
Analyst: ‘Amazon Unbox – Well that didn’t work at all’ – September 09, 2006
Analysts: Amazon’s ‘Unbox’ to be ‘Unsuccessful’ vs. Apple – September 08, 2006

Taylor continues, “So if we’re getting movies on our iPods, our computers and our TVs (via our computers), why would anyone ever buy a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ DVD again? Turns out, there are plenty of reasons why.”

“The current push by Apple et al. into digital movie downloads makes a lot of assumptions. It supposes that we all own iPods and PCs, and are more than happy to plunk down a few hundred bucks for yet another set-top box – this time called iTV,” Taylor writes. “These services may do very well, but they lack one thing: the ability to store, or ‘burn,’ a movie on a disc… there will be a truce in the tug-of-war over Blu-Ray and HD DVD. Sales of DVDs players will spike and the movie experience will outshine downloads even more.”

Full article here.
Why do you want to burn a plastic disc? Easy, for archiving, playing, and sharing. Plus a DVD player plus a disc trump a Mac or PC with iTunes and and iTV in the upfront cost and ease-of-use departments. Apple iTunes allows for archiving the data, iTV will handle the playing, iPod takes care of the sharing (you can take your iPod with you and play your movies on TVs anywhere with a $19 cable). People do like to share/lend DVDs, but Hollywood frowns upon sharing; they want everyone to buy the content, not share it with others for free. Apple and everyone else have quite a distance to go to replace the sharing (you’re not going to want to lend your friend your iPod as easily as you’d lend a DVD), cost of entry, ease-of-use, and also the quality advantages of DVD. All in all, Taylor is right that DVDs aren’t dead, yet.


  1. I’ve never had a working DVD player that wasn’t in my Mac.

    I’ve never purchased a DVD (had couple given to me for promo purposes).

    I subscribe to HBO/Max, Showtime/TMC, Starz/Encore.

    In my home the DVD isn’t just dead, it was never alive in the first place.

  2. Another big factor for consumers is copy protection on downloads. I can currently use my purchased DVD in all manner of arenas (home TV, friend’s TV, car DVD player, computer, etc). Plus of course if I want a digital copy on my HD, there’s Handbrake or other solutions.

    That flexibilty of use is _not_ what you get with digital downloads, which restrict my usage to something tied to a computer (even an iPod, which has to download the file from my mac).

    Lack of flexibility coupled with poor video quality on downloads means that I’m unlikely to purchase my movies that way.

    Now if I could rent a movie on demand from iTunes for, say, $4–then we’d be talking!

  3. Young whippersnappers! I watch my movies on punch cards and paper tape. The only time it skips is during the occasional hanging chad. Oh, how I miss the good old days of Kinetoscopes and wax cylinders.

    (Actually, I do remember changing the channel on a huge console, tiny screen, tube filled B&W TV using vise grip pliers.)

  4. Macatheson… Right ON, bro!

    People LIKE to collect things. Yes, real physical, hold in your hand, stack on a shelf, hang on the wall THINGS! Whether it be marbles, pennies, books, art, LPs, CDs or sports cars, we’ll all continue to do so. No amount of digital media will change that. I archive my data to CDs, DVD and MO disks.

    Movie downloads are in their infancy. With the development, maturity and push for HDTV, more and more people will want to see FULL resolution movies on their FULL-res HDTVs!

    Note that 1080p sets of reasonable size and price, (Sharp sells a 37″ 1080p set) are now available. Oh yeah, the 24″ iMac is full resolution 1080p monitor and HD playback system of reasonable size and price!

    Those with the sets are going to want their full-res images. (I know when I finally get one, that’s what I’ll want.) But in order to deliver full-res content online there needs to be a serious increase in bandwidth and download speed. It’s happening, but it’ll be a few years before it’s readily available at a reasonable price.

    Then, when we download our full-res movies from iTS, we’ll be able to burn them to a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD disk (My vote’s for Blu-Ray), line them up on our shelves and marvel at our media collections.

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