Physical vs. Electrical Distribution: A Look Back in Time
During 2008′s CES conference, Seagate Technology CEO Bill Watkins said the distribution war is not between HD-DVD (now discontinued, but 3D could be considered its replacement) and Blu-ray. That was a popular topic in previous years, as pros and cons of the two were highlighted and many thought one to be better than the other. Blu-Ray eventually won as retailers and manufacturers gave up on HD-DVD, but does that really matter?
Watkins believed that “the war is over physical distribution versus electrical and Blu-ray and HD lost that.” In fact, he gave quite a speech that week during a morning meeting. According to him, electrical distribution and the companies producing that are the big winners. 5 years later, and much of it rings true.
However, although HD-DVD failed, I wouldn’t say Blu-Ray is an outright failure. Sure, streaming movies and TV is great, but if you don’t have a high-speed internet connection, why bother? In addition, those with HDTVs and Blu-Ray players probably are still doing to buy their favorite movies on Blu-Ray, and perhaps even more so now that a lot of newer HDTVs have 3D capabilities.
Sure, services like Netflix and Hulu seem like the quick, easy way to go. On-demand videos and TV programs are very popular. Again, without a high-speed internet connection or the services themselves, it’s useless. I get that minimalism is a new trend and most people don’t want tons of DVDs laying around just like they are ridding themselves of physical books and papers, but that doesn’t mean people will stop buying Blu-Rays. In fact, myself and others I know tend to only buy Blu-Rays now. You don’t get Blu-Ray quality on Netflix.
Going back to Watkins, he said Hollywood would need to get into the delivery of content to people’s homes. “They [the people] will watch lousy content if it is easy to do,” he said. Well, now in 2013 that’s true, as plenty of people watch Netflix and YouTube videos, and who goes to a video store anymore? However, not all movies are available on Netflix and I actually still do go to local video stores (or Redbox) to rent new releases. People are uppity about quality content. Sure, you might be able to watch grainy episodes of Steve Wilkos on YouTube (guilty as charged), but you’re not going to want to watch the new Iron Man movie that way, no matter how easy it is.
Lastly, Watkins explained how such a transformation is good for hard drive manufacturers, since people need places to store downloaded data. I mean, I guess, but do people really download all the movies they watch? No. Some people delete them after they are done with them (or burn them to a disc). I agree more storage space is constantly needed, but not necessarily because of electronic video formats. A lot of people buy external drives and space to back up their data in case their computer crashes or another data loss disaster occurs.