PermaLink 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.

However, it appears Sony has abandoned the use of UMDs for movies, mostly because nobody's buying them.  I am not surprised.  UMD never made sense as a medium for content that really ought to be downloadable.

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 my PSP.

I can play the UMD version on...  my PSP.

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.

I am pretty tired of predicting this stuff.
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