Tuesday, August 8

CinemaNow claims 94% of download-to-burn DVDs work

From: CinemaNow claims 94% of download-to-burn DVDs work - Engadget

Somehow we had a feeling CinemaNow wouldn't take the news sitting down with regard to the claims espoused by an anonymous engineer who claims their new pseudo-DRMed download-to-burn DVD service is horribly, fatally flawed, and won't play but in any but the most robust standalone DVD boxes. CinemaNow shot back stating that the service has been 'well received by our customers and studios alike,' (ah, isn't that the trick?) and that tests had the burned DVDs working on '94 percent of DVD players.' Which tests and using what DVD players we don't know, but somehow we don't expect to have that data readily divulged. Guess there's only one way to find out though, right? Download a marginally overpriced flick for about ten bucks, get yourself a spindle of DVD-Rs, and go to town. And while you're at hit, howsabout letting us now how it worked out for ya by shouting it out in the comments, yeah?

I just had to comment on this. Cinema has been getting a lot of heat (not just from engadget ;) on their puchase, download and burn movie service. They now claim that though they purposefully introduce errors that show up when the movie is burnt to DVD that these DVD's work on 94% of all DVD players.

This sort of statistical talk is simply and obvious bullshit. As someone who knows something about usability research I know how to identify bullshit when I see it.

First, quite honestly in a world of DVD players there's no possible way to determine market impact.

Second, even if they could test every DVD player (which they can't) that still doesn't tell them what percentage of customers are using what DVD players.

Third, I assume therefore that they're therefore basing such statistics on ancedotal evidence such as customer feedback... that is if they've got any basis for such statistics at all.

So, if my assumptions are right I guess what CinemaNow is saying is that only 6% of their customers called up to complain. LOL! Do you know how bad things have to be broken before 6% of your customers will complain!?

So my question to Cinema now is what percentage of your customers had trouble playing DVD's that didn't call? People who just though CinemaNow was just plain broke... People whom just said "fuck this shit it's not worth my time".

In a world of usability testing if you have that high of a negative feedback rating (six percent!) you are simply S.O.L. and the sign above your e-store should read "Abandon hope now all ye' who enter."

This is why I follow the DRM issue, not because I have an acedmemic and vested interest in it, but because it's so damn fun and entertaining!

Ultimately... none of this matters. At the end of the day all that matters is wether CinemaNow succeeds as a business and fails... And guess what... that's great, because at the very least we'll all be entertained... maybe everyone will learn something.

Since Apple's Fairplay has been the only widely successful DRM'd market place yet and they're increasingly facing anti-trust issues I'm thinking that lesson will be that DRM is fundementally defective-by-design, anti-competitive, and just plain broken.

DRM is fundamentally rife with in escapeable conflicts.

The only way to leverage DRM into the marketplace is to have complete, 100% control over that marketplace... Silo businesses as their called, or technologically perfect little walled gardens, as they're also called. Apple has been the only one to pull this off so far... and their success ironicly may very well be their downfall.

My view of the future is as follows.

1) There will be "competition" between multiple silo's or marketplaces of media. You'll have the choice of what platform you want to be locked into. These services will divy up a small percentage of the highend market for high-def and hollywood media... so called big media.

2) The majority of the market will eventually become open and competitive.... based on standards based media like mp3's, mp4's and eventually even more open media formats like ogg-orvis and others.

3) These open marketplaces will fundamentally (because they're open) become the the center of the digital media marketplace... they'll be where grassroots and independant media take hold and where all innovation occurs. Because innovation always takes the path of least resistance. DRM marketplaces will relegate themselves to small niches around the periphery of the open marketplace, just as AOL eventually relegated itself to the sidelines of the internet.

Marketplaces fundamentally must remain open and free in order to reach the greatest state of efficiency, competition, and equitable distribution for all.

You can already see these two alternative worlds of media shaping up. On the one hand there's all these non-innovative, highly inflexible marketplaces like Apple iTunes, Cinema now, and every service based on Microsofts DRM... and on the other hand there's video and audio podcasting... CDBaby and thousands of hosts and platforms for open and independant media.

As for what percentage of the market will be open, and what percentage closed I cannot say.

But I have one fundamental premise.

The center of the marketplace MUST remain open.

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