Sony dumps UMD movies. Told ya.07/17/2006 02:56 PM
You know, I am getting pretty damn tired
of being right all the time. I found a report that Sony is indeed
terminating production and sale of movies on their PSP-only UMD format
discs. I pretty much predicted this when I bought my PSP just after
it came out in the US.
Some of you may know that last year,
just after it appeared for sale in the United States, I got a Sony PlayStation
Portable, or PSP. One of the big supposed selling points of the PSP
was this peculiar, Sony-only media format that it used for games, the "universal
media disc" or UMD. About two inches across and held in a weird
little sort of carrier, UMDs were intended to carry games, software updates
and full-length movies.
Look at this minor example: the
day that the DVD version of National Treasure came out a year or
so ago, I was at fye in the mall. Two racks, one next to the
other. One held the UMD version, the other the DVD version.
I can play the DVD version on... my
iBook, my MacBook, my Dell at work, my iMac at home, any recent Windows
machine, milllions upon millions of home DVD players, and my portable DVD
player, as well as a number of game consoles like XBox and PS2. With
a simple DVD ripper and format converter, I can play it on my iPod or on
I can play the UMD version on... my
The DVD version is $20. The UMD
version is... $40.
You'd have to be nearly retarded to
want to buy a movie on such a format.
Comfortingly, few people did, restoring
some of my faith in America's intellectual health. Wal-Mart and Target
have apparently severely cut the space devoted to UMDs or abandoned them
entirely. The local GameStop store has some UMDs, but they also carry
used one, so that takes up some of the display space.
My next-most-recent prognostication
triumph was predicting that nobody would bother with Circuit
City's DivX disposable-DVD scheme
a few years ago (not to be confused with the excellent open-source DivX
video codec), a scheme where you had to have a special player that hooked
up to your phone line and periodically checked to make sure you had actually
paid to "rent" these one-use DVDs with no features on them. After
dumping over one hundred million dollars into the mess, Circuit City surrendered
and gave up. The one thing that made DivX worse than UMD for movies
is that once Circuit City gave up supporting it, both your player and
your movies were completely useless.
At least with UMD, as long as your batteries
hold out, you can still use these little things as something other than
lopsided drink coasters.