Tag Archives: blu ray

More expensive + worse user experience never wins

DVDs and Blu-rays will now carry two unskippable government warnings:

Will the two screens be shown back to back? Will each screen last for 10 seconds each? Will each screen be unskippable? Yes, yes, and yes.

John Gruber nails it:

So to encourage people not to engage in piracy, they’re going to force everyone to watch yet another annoying, time-wasting, gratification-delaying warning screen that can only be avoided by engaging in piracy.

Music piracy started to go downhill once it became easier, faster and safer to download songs legally. Before iTunes, the only way to download music was to do so illegally. People wanted to download music, so what were they supposed to do?

It takes me less than 10 seconds to download a song from iTunes that will automatically sync to my Mac and iPhone and is backed up in the cloud. That’s hard to compete with. Piracy will never match that user experience.

Piracy should never be the more user-friendly option. Going up against easier, faster and free is a losing proposition. It’s incredibly easy to rent and purchase movies and TV shows from Amazon, Apple, Vudu and others. Unfortunately, movie studies are keeping a lot of their content out of digital video stores because they want to push physical media sales — media that comes with two unskippable warnings, outdated trailers and even commercials.

Stop this madness.

My dream for streaming movies

It’s a simple dream: I want to be able to stream any movie ever made in HD to my TV, computer, smartphone, iPad and other devices.

It’s a reality that could happen today. It should have happened already, but it hasn’t. If this happened, I would spend more money on movies.

I would spend more money on movies.

But the movie studios have resisted this idea, because they are more tied to what has made them money in the past than what people want in the present. They don’t like streaming. They have begrudgingly given Netflix some older content to offer up and a few newer releases. They allow iTunes, Amazon and other companies to allow most newer movies to be streamed and some older movies, usually at prices that feel a little high, with really restrictive windows on watching the movie ($4.99 to watch a movie once at home within 24 hours?).

There should be no outrage that Netflix wants to charge customers separately for its streaming and mail services. They are separate services with separate costs, but people are angry almost entirely because Netflix streaming doesn’t have enough content for most people. It’s not the price, it’s the product.

But it’s not Netflix’s fault. They have all the content they can get. The movie studios just don’t want to give up the ghost — the dream that you’ll keep buying DVDs.

They want you to buy movies that you only want to watch once. Sure, you can watch a DVD as many times as you want. That’s the dream they want you to believe, but it’s not the reality for most movie purchases.

It’s like how music labels tried to cling to CDs desperately because it’s so much more profitable to get people to buy an entire CD for one or two songs.

But this is myopic. It’s silly. It’s retrograde.

Heck I would even buy more movies if I could buy them how I want to buy them. I would love to “buy” a movie that would allow me to stream it as many times as I want to any device I own. I don’t want to have to deal with storing a digital file (and backing it up), and that whole dance of trying to sync the movie to different devices.

This whole situation is anti-user. The technology is available to make more movies available for streaming. The technology is available to make movie watching easier than ever.

Streaming movies is so easy. I can just sit down on my couch and select a movie that I want to watch on my Apple TV and just hit rent. Watching Netflix streaming movies is just as easy to. The service even saves my location, so that if I go from watching on my TV to my iPad, I can pick right up where I left off. I like that.

No going to the store, no waiting in line, no dealing with out of stock issues. If you make a product or service easier to consume, people will consume more of it.

I’m done with physical media. It doesn’t fit my life. I don’t like needing shelf space for it. I don’t like going to stores to see what is in stock, nor do I enjoy wasting my time, energy and gas/public transportation money to get there.

Frankly, even with Netflix’s mail product, I couldn’t be sure that the movie I selected on Tuesday to ship to my house to watch on Friday would still suit me when I actually sat down. How can I judge my mood days in advance? With streaming I sit down, look through what is available and select something — often an impulse (most companies try to encourage impulse buys).

These impulses should be fed by making moving watching easier and more social. Why doesn’t iTunes and other movie services have a social component or integration with existing social networks. I want to see what people with similar tastes like. I want to see what my friends are watching. I want to watch movies with them.

Make these things happen, and I will watch more movies. I’m not alone.

We shouldn’t have to dream about putting existing technology together. We have seen bits and pieces, but it is time to give the people what they want.

My current movie watching setup is like this: Netflix streaming for whatever I can find and all those awesome esoteric movies and documentaries it has, iTunes on an Apple TV for renting of new releases and other movies not available on Netflix and I buy blu rays of movies that I want to watch a lot, particularly movies that look great. I can never watch Lord of the Rings enough, and it really shines on blu ray.

This is why everyone should go Netflix streaming only. Drop the DVD portion of your packages. The studios shouldn’t force us to watch DVDs as a fallback because they don’t want to make more content available for streaming.

Users should never be forced into an inferior user experience. DVDs are an inferior user experience, especially when you have to ship them back and forth with the post office.

You’ll always make more money by getting people to like your product more.

Set top boxes can use more power than a refrigator, consume power non-stop

One of my biggest complaints about electronics is the huge waste of power when we’re not using them. Set top boxes may be the kings of phantom power:

One high-definition DVR and one high-definition cable box use an average of 446 kilowatt hours a year, about 10 percent more than a 21-cubic-foot energy-efficient refrigerator, a recent study found.

These set-top boxes are energy hogs mostly because their drives, tuners and other components are generally running full tilt, or nearly so, 24 hours a day, even when not in active use. The recent study, by the Natural Resources Defense Council, concluded that the boxes consumed $3 billion in electricity per year in the United States — and that 66 percent of that power is wasted when no one is watching and shows are not being recorded. That is more power than the state of Maryland uses over 12 months.

I have my TV, Xbox 360, Blu Ray player, Apple TV, Wii and receiver hooked up to a power strip that I turn off when I’m not in use. This helps me save a lot of money every month on my electricity bills. I do not have a cable set top box, because I find cable too expensive for what it gives me and too fixated on serving me content on their schedule.

A simple $10 power strip is helping to save me hundreds of dollars a year, minimum (you can get fancier ones that turn devices off automatically and others with remotes). While this simple solution does help save a lot of electricity, these set top boxes and other electronics should still be more energy efficient out of the box. The Apple TV, for instance, uses the same parts in the iPhone 4, which allows it to consume very little power.