January 5, 2008

Blu-ray and HD DVD and Enterprise Architecture

User-centric EA focuses on providing useful and usable information and services to end-users and in satisfying user requirements.

In the high definition format wars, the sense of User-centric EA seems to have been lost, as Blu-ray and HD DVD has been set as the new target architecture for optical disc formats. As Stephanie Prange, Home Media Magazine, editor in chief states, “the battle has confused consumers…[and] many people don’t [even] see the need for high-definition anyway.

What is Blu-ray and HD DVD?

  • “Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disc (BD), is the name of a next-generation optical disc format jointly developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), a group of the world's leading consumer electronics, personal computer and media manufacturers (including Apple, Dell, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson). The format was developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition video (HD), as well as storing large amounts of data. The format offers more than five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs and can hold up to 25GB on a single-layer disc and 50GB on a dual-layer disc. This extra capacity combined with the use of advanced video and audio codecs will offer consumers an unprecedented HD experience…seven of the eight major movie studios (Disney, Fox, Warner, Paramount, Sony, Lionsgate and MGM) have released movies in the Blu-ray format and six of them (Disney, Fox, Sony, Warner, Lionsgate and MGM) are releasing their movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format.” (http://www.blu-ray.com/info/)

  • “HD DVD delivers true high definition video content on the next generation optical disc format approved by the DVD Forum. With up to six times the resolution of DVD, HD DVDhttp://www.tacp.toshiba.com/hddvd/) offers a superior video experience.” (

So what is the conflict between Blu-ray and HD DVDs?

HD DVD is currently in a ‘format war’ with rival format Blu-ray Disc, to determine which of the two formats will become the leading carrier for high-definition content to consumers.” As of November 27, 2007, 344 HD DVD titles have been released in the USA. As of November 25, 2007, 415 titles had been released on Blu-ray Disc in the United States (Wikipedia). Not only have more titles been released in Blue-ray, but Blue-rays have outsold HD DVDs by 2-to-1 in the U.S. last year. (Reuters)

On 4 January 2008, Warner Brothers studio announced that “it would exclusively release high-definition DVDs in Sony’s Blu-ray format, a big blow to Toshiba’s rival HD DVD technology.” (Reuters) Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Disney have earlier done the same. Of the big American distributors, only Paramount and Universal Pictures continue to release for HD DVD. (Wikipedia)

So for now, Blu-ray is looking to be the winner in the HD format war.

How are consumers being affected?

Consumers are asking is whether they will have to dump and replace all their DVDs (something that the movie studios are hoping for)─this is similar to all the record collections that went in the trash after CDs were launched. I found the question online with a favorable answer for consumers.

"Will Blu-ray be backwards compatible with DVD?

Yes, several leading consumer electronics companies (including Sony, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Pioneer, Sharp and LG) have already demonstrated products that can read/write CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs using a BD/DVD/CD compatible optical head, so you don't have to worry about your existing DVD collection becoming obsolete. In fact, most of the Blu-ray players coming out will support upscaling of DVDs to 1080p/1080i, so your existing DVDDVD, the format is far too popular to not be supported. The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) expects every Blu-ray Disc device to be backward compatible with DVDs.” (http://www.blu-ray.com/faq/) collection will look even better than before. While it's up to each manufacturer to decide if they want to make their products backwards compatible with

What is wrong with the new high-definition format release of Blu-ray and HD DVD from a User-centric EA perspective?

While the new Blu-ray and HD DVD technologies may be a leap ahead from a technology perspective, the introduction of these products has been dismal from a User-centric EA perspective. Consumers have been caught up in the technology tug-of-war between these high definition formats─similar to the way consumers were ping-ponged between the old VHS and Beta formats. Additionally, the marketing and communications to consumers of why they need Blue-ray or HD DVD has been ineffective if not more or less absent. Finally, aside from the studio and technology companies wanting to make more money on replacements of DVDs, it has been unclear whether there is even user demand for the new format. This has been another “technology for technology’s sake” initiative by Sony and Toshiba, rather than true business needs driving technology.


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