I was reading an article written a few days ago about HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray. One of their premises was that the "format war" was moot because "If the market and industry is moving toward HD downloads to a growing number of consumers with broadband Internet access, the outcome for Blu-ray and HD DVD doesn't look particularly sunny."
Clearly this idea is plausible only to someone who hasn't ever downloaded HD content over "broadband Internet access".
I'm told by Comcast that I have a 12Mbps connection to the Internet (sometimes it appears to perform better than that, if the tests at speedtest.net
are any indication). Considering that most standard definition DVDs can push up to 5GB of data, it would take, at a very charitable 100% throughput calculation, a full hour for me to download 5GB of data. More likely, because of shared bandwidth, not to mention Internet congestion and that the throughput is likely to be a fraction of what the peak burst capacity of my Internet connection can push, it would take 4-8 hours or more to download a single standard-definition DVD.
When you consider that a high definition disc can hold nearly 10 times the data that a standard DVD can, we're talking four to eight days to download a single HD movie over the Internet. The time to beat "sneakernet" (i.e. shipping the discs from Netflix) stands at about four days, and they can deliver as many movies during that time that you're willing to pay for (and return)-- not just one.
For online delivery of feature-length HD content to become a reality, average household broadband rates would have to double more than twice, and that's unlikely to happen any time soon if recent history is any indicator. Broadband speed has been doubling every 3-5 years, at best, so my bet is that Blu-Ray* (and/or HD-DVD) will be very well established by 2011 to 2013.
(For readers interested in my previous thoughts on Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD, see my blog post from December 2006 called the Format War Myth
(* I'm bullish on Blu-Ray because I think as PS3 prices drop, it will become the largest single installed high definition disc player, giving Blu-Ray a definite advantage in the marketplace. Recent news from CES, namely that New Line and Warner Bros. are both going exclusively Blu-Ray, do little to diminish my confidence. I also predict that Apple will begin shipping Blu-Ray reader/writers over the next 12 months, and they often followed by commodity PC manufacturers shortly thereafter, just like they were with USB, FireWire, Bluetooth and WiFi)