Weekly News Roundup (3 January 2010)

Welcome to this side of 2010. Feeling any different yet? More futuristic? More spacey? Well, it is the year we make contact and all. As expected, news is fairly non existent, so I’ll spend most of this WNR looking forward to the new year. But first, let’s go through the news …

The proposed UK anti-piracy law will cost more than expected, says the UK government, which still plans to press ahead with the changes. The cost is estimated at half a billion pounds a year, or around $USD 807m, and could see up to 40,000 households lose the ability to pay for the Internet. Remember that this is all the government’s own projections, which might even be far too optimistic. And the most worrying thing about this all is that it might not even stop piracy, as encrypted P2P is now more and more popular and the proposed system will not be able to monitor or stop such activities. It is also unknown why the supposed beneficiaries in this arrangement, the copyright holders, aren’t putting money where their mouths are to solve their own problems (the money paid to lobbyist withstanding).

Blu-ray sales have done extremely well in the second half of 2009, and the last two week’s worth of available data were both record breakers in terms of weekly revenue (see stats). The continuous stream of hit releases in the second half of 2009, many of which are just the right kind of movies for your typical Blu-ray high spender (young, male, home theater enthusiast), have really helped the format. We’re nearly at the stage where 1 in 6 movies sold are on the Blu-ray format, which is still someway away from becoming truly mainstream, but at the present rate, it should get there. Whether Blu-ray can keep going at the present rate, or hit some resistance later on as the user base changes from enthusiast based to your average Joe (who may not care about HD, or even own a HDTV that can truly take advantage of Blu-ray), is hard to say at the moment. This next crucial step is always the hardest, although with HD becoming standard (both in terms of broadcast and TV set sales), Blu-ray seems to be the natural next step. There was also the news that even higher capacity Blu-ray discs may be available without the need (for most) to change hardware, thanks to new techniques developed by Sony and Panasonic.

And that’s the news part over. Let’s take brief look at 2010. Instead of making predictions that probably won’t come true anyway, I will simply go over some of the things that I hope will happen in 2010.


In copyright, I wish that common sense will prevail, but I think that’s unlikely. Instead, we’ll probably see a couple of more victories in the courts for the “bad guys” (and I know I said I won’t make predictions, but I can’t help myself). Governments will take these victories as mandates to radically destroy our rights to help big business, which has been an ongoing theme in the last year and a bit. The ‘P’ in ISP is also likely to change from “Provider” to “Police”.

BitTorrent will change to adapt of  course, because if there’s one thing that digital piracy has shown us is that it can adapt much quicker than the time it takes copyright holders to even consider change. VPN and encrypted BitTorrent to make file sharing anonymous will make the task of monitoring piracy that much harder, which the powers that be will complain about, but they only have themselves to blame really.

But all is not lost, not if copyright holders finally see the light and give people what they want, when they want it. The “how” may mean some compromises by both sides, and by that I mean some form of DRM but not too harsh. Portability and “on demand” will be the driving forces behind this, and while we may never see the day when, for example, movie studios will let us make personal copies of our movies without restrictions, we might just get the next best thing through the likes of Managed Copy and Disney’s Keychest initiative. Speaking of Managed Copy, we shall see whether studios are serious about it in just a few months time, when it becomes truly mandatory and studios have no choice but to support it. If it does work, then it will probably cost money at first to be able to unlock the feature on discs, but as with “Digital Copy” and combos, competition will force studios to package MC in the same “combo” package, with an initial temporary price hike, which will soon dissipate thanks to the ever decreasing Blu-ray pricing. How long before studios start complaining that they’re not making less and less money from Blu-ray, just like what they’ve been doing for the last couple of years with DVD?

High Definition

It should be another bumper year for Blu-ray, since as mentioned above, the natural next step is to go all HD on every front, including home video. The previously mentioned portability and “on demand” are two things that Blu-ray is going up against, but Blu-ray players, ironically, may be the hardware behind enabling both. Managed Copy (or Digital Copy) can provide portability, which could be a lot more convenient and at least copies that don’t expire, and the Blu-ray player’s Internet connectivity and upgradeable software/firmware makes them perfect set top boxes for on demand services.

It would be nice if MC is properly supported and we see the emergence of Blu-ray servers, large storage devices that can store your managed copies for instant and disc less playback. Basically a Kaleidescape box for Blu-ray’s that won’t get sued by studios.

3D will make some impact, although the more I look at the hardware requirements, the more I think it won’t succeed. It’s one thing to watch 3D movies at the cinema, it’s another to watch it at home on your much smaller screen. And with hardly any TVs available to support the various nascent 3D standards, 2010 may just be too early for 3D adoption to occur. The whole gimmicky idea behind 3D, and the still ongoing debate as to whether 3D makes a film experience better or not, means that there’s a steep hill to climb for home based 3D.


And in gaming, expect the battle between the Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3 to heat up even more, as any of these three could end up the monthly top selling console by the end of 2010. The PS3 will have its Wii remote competitor out, and it will be interesting to see if this will hurt the Wii, which when I look at the their game lineup, is pulling further and further away from the mainstream (which may not be a bad thing). The Xbox 360’s Natal, if the rumored release date of November 2010 is true, will come too late in the year to make a huge impact. Although if it does work, then it could take gaming to the next level in the same way the Wii did a couple of years ago. And if it does work, expect a similar “camera” in a range of electronic devices, that will operate through gesture, face and voice recognition. Don’t be surprised to find that the Natal camera will work in Windows 7 with little fuss and that Media Center can now be gesture and voice controlled.

Okay, enough day dreaming for now. Hopefully, real news (that is, news that is made up by real journalists) will be forthcoming in the next week. See you next week.


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