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August 12, 2005
Dumb Ideas, Part 3 - Competing Standards
I've been trying to avoid writing about the ongoging feud in next-generation DVD technology, mostly because I consider it stupid. The competition serves no one, and most certainly is a detriment to consumers, who would be best served by a broad market of compatible devices all working to a unified public, open standard.
In this case, the flap is over the fact that Blu-Ray have added DRM features that both mirror and extend the controls that competitor HD-DVD wants to offer. Both systems use the Advanced Access Content System (ACCS), but Blu-ray want to add something to ACCS that they're calling BD+. Tom's Hardware guide has a detailed explanation of what appear to be Blue-ray's plans: throw the kitchen sink in, too. According to that story, the set of DRM features include "phone home" capabilities, self-destruct, and additional ecryption.
So dumb idea the first - have two competing standards - is compounded by dumb idea the second - believing that technical superiority will determine which standard ultimately succeeds. History shows that either marketing+content will beat superior technology (VHS over Betamax) or rapid industry change will bypass the competing standards altogether (as DVD bypassed numerous competing laser disk formats).
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