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February 16, 2006

Portable Movie Sales Dry Up

Sony is running into some problems with the sale of portable movies on the Universal Media Disc (UMD) format for the PlayStation Portable (PSP). Movie companies are pulling many of their future releases for a variety of reasons including:

Many movies do not sell well for the portable device; comedy does fairly well, but the audience isn’t very wide or deep.

People can’t play the PSP version of the movie on their TV and don’t like purchasing the same movie more than once, one time to watch at home and again to watch on the PSP.

With new high-definition versions of movies scheduled to hit store shelves later this year, retailers will require room to stock and sell these new formats. As such, something has to give, and that would be the poorly performing UMDs.

Here's what Sony SHOULD have done from the get-go:

Never imagined the UMD
The PSP should run games off of ROM chips (not Flash ROM for those claiming it would be too expensive). The PSP would have had faster loading times, better battery life, greater durability/reliability, and could be smaller. Instead, we are stuck with the already outdated UMD format and all the drawbacks of optical discs. The only advantage of the UMDs are the amount of storage space they provide, important for movies, not as much for games. This one is kind of hard to undo since the PSP has already been available for a year. It isn’t beyond the realm of possibility with a redesign akin to the Nintendo DS Lite.

Downloadable Video
The PSP should have launched with a video download service where users could buy movies online and save them to Memory Stick. Sony would make a killing on Memory Stick sales. Instead, they let Apple and Google beat them to the punch. Now sales of UMDs dwindle.

Make the PS3 a Recorder
The PS3 will come with the ability to playback DVDs. Why not embed the ability to copy the contents of a DVD to a Memory Stick for viewing on the PSP? Sony could control the fair-rights copyright within the PS3 and PSP since they create the hardware for both. They could enforce that your are only allowed to copy the DVD to a PSP a set number of times, much like iTunes handles digitally rights managed music.

Here’s why it would be successful:
Many movies do not sell well on UMDs, and producing a movie on UMD is a fairly expensive affair. Discs have to be duplicated, packaging printed, UMDs shipped to retailers, etc. Stocking movies online would remove the production form the costs of the movie, allowing Sony and the movie studio to reap more of the cost of the sale. The online store could be tailored to suggest new movies to PSP owners based on their previous viewing habits.

PSP owners would buy more movies if they were cheaper. This increases the value of the device to the consumer, ensuring they utilize the PSP more often, for longer and in public. Public use of the PSP is free advertising for Sony. Sony should think of the PSP as a long-term relationship rather than trying to gouge consumers with each $20+ UMD sale.

If people could buy a DVD and use the PS3 to watch it on their TV as well as use it to copy the DVD to the PSP, people would see a greater value in both the PSP and the PS3. It would solve the problem consumers have with buying two copies of the same movie, an understandable complaint.

High Definition movies wouldn’t compete with UMDs in retail if there was a good digital distribution method for acquiring movies or creating portable versions of DVDs. Sony is already fighting to make sure their Bluray formay is the HD movie format of choice, why would they want to battle against themselves for shelf-space? It essentially cuts into either their HD-movie retail space OR their UMD movie shelf space. Either way, Sony loses.


At February 17, 2006 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


What the hell is Sony thinking with this proprietary format crap?! If I (Joe Shmoe) can tell that that is a dumb azz idea, then why couldn't the 'geniuses' at Sony Corp. figure that simple concept out? I realize they're greedy S.O.B.'s, but as this article describes, they just KEEP shooting themselves in the foot. I own a PSP, but have not touched it for TWO months now! Why?!, because the games suck, the UMD format for movies is just plain retarded, memory sticks are too expensive and limited in space, and porting any video over the to the thing so that it can run off the memory stick is just a pain in the azz!

Come on Sony! Wake-Up! Face the fact that you are NOT going to create ANOTHER mainstream video format (I doubt even HD-DVD and Blu-Ray will do much until everyone including 'Trailer-Park' John owns an HDTV)! Beta-Max, Mini-Disc, UMD....colosal mistakes.... With the luxury of recorded history, it should be all too easy to have seen that UMD would go the way of the Beta-Max....

Why do you let history kick you in the azz so much Sony?

At February 17, 2006 10:48 PM, Anonymous Nik Manning said...

It is hard to believe that this is the same company that made the walkman. I am very confused by sony's recent decisions. they could have used mini dvd's or memory sticks for games. bye bye sony.

At February 18, 2006 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I also I agree with the above posted comments. SONY try to create a market all for themselves to capitalise on the licensing of the proprietary format by other manufacturers.

I too have not touched my PSP for 3 months now - ive even been on a long haul trip to New York for a week and decided not to bother taking it - took my ArchosAV 500 intead cause it has a HARD DRIVE! Thast what SONY shouldve put in it...maybe the next release wil have one in it - then will it only become a killer machine!

At February 18, 2006 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remember Betamax? Remember Mini-Disc? Sony has a history of trying to force formats on the public. Most of them are crap and fail, but Sony is so paranoid they will just keep churning this stuff out.

At February 19, 2006 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget ATRAC, or whatever the hell it was called. Sony's answer for the .mp3 format. I don't know if anyone has ever tried using those sony digital walkmans, but they were equally retarded...forcing you to use the includeed software to add music to the player instead of the standard drag and drop. And I'm not sure if this is connected, but after I installed the software my computer started freezing up when I tried to use NERO to burn a CD from my mp3's. Good thing I still had my receipt for that thing

At February 19, 2006 11:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me and EVERYONE I know believe that Sony's refusal to allow writable UMD to be a laughably stupid decision. In fact, everyone I've ever spoken to about the PSP says the same thing, "If I could just copy my DVD's and other video content to UMD I'd buy it and the iPod video wouldn't even exist!"

I love the PSP format and screen. I spent maybe 100 hours on airplanes last year - yet I don't have a PSP for the reasons noted above.

True, watching movies is maybe not the point of the PSP. But letting the iPod Video eat your lunch when you own freakin' Columbia Pictures? Even after Apple handed you your jewels on a platter with iTunes when you own so much music? No wonder Matsushita no longer counts Sony as a competitor. I was proud to own a Sony TV and original Walkman. But of the several thousands of dollars I've spent on electronics in the last five years (HDTV, new theater system, cameras, MP3 players, computers, etc.), not a cent has been spent on Sony products.

Sony, Sony, Sony...the stupidity of it all.

At February 20, 2006 2:41 AM, Anonymous Jeremy said...

It just seems that everyone is being overtaken by the big monsters out there such as Microsoft and Apple. Who can stop them? Probably no-one! Maybe Apple will release a games console next? They've never really had a games market and might see this as an entry point now they have everyone carrying iPods!
I must admit M$ have done well with the 360, marketing and all!

At February 25, 2006 1:13 PM, Anonymous Wiseblade said...

This is just further evidence on how messed up the PSP is. It could have been a real monster to the handheld market, but I could imagine it's failure right when I saw it's format. They'll have to get back on track for the PS3 or risk falling dangerously behind.

At March 10, 2006 1:24 AM, Anonymous Spitfya said...

I agree with the first comment about ps3 being able to send movies to psp. Sony should research this, it's a fix for a problem that they created and a pretty smart one at that.


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