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EST. SEPTEMBER 8th, 1997
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    Random Poll: Just how big is big momma?

    a) Big momma is so big, she can get group insurance rates.
    b) Big momma is so big, she gets clothes in three sizes: extra large, jumbo and oh-my-god-it's-coming-towards-us!
    c) Big momma is so big, when she gets on the scale it says 'to be continued.'
    d) Actually, big momma is so big, when she gets on the scale it says 'One at a time, please!'
    e) Hey... uh - the movie is about 'Big Momma' not 'Yo Mama'. Get your head out of the toilet.

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    The Life and Death of Divx

    The Life and Death of DIVX

    DIVX was introduced and proposed by Circuit City and a Hollywood law firm during the fourth quarter of 1997. DIVX was intended for the rental market of the movie industry. DIVX was a modified format of the current DVD technology. DIVX players contained special decoding circuitry and a modem in which to communicate with the DIVX headquarters (which acted much like your normal video rental store, such as Blockbuster). DIVX discs could be bought for roughly $5 a piece which in turn granted the purchaser a total of 2 days to view the disc from the moment the disc was played. Every additional viewing period could be purchased for roughly $3-$4 or the disc could be bought outright for a remaining cost of roughly $15 or more (all via credit card). (Note: These are Divx "Silver" discs. Not all discs offered this feature.)

    Potentially, it was initially thought that upon its success, this proposal could put many of the traditional video rental companies out of business by transferring all rental market revenues directly to Digital Video Express and participating studios.

    All DIVX discs were NON-playable in all standard DVD players -- which made up the majority of DVD hardware during its market run.

    The DIVX people claimed that their technology was meant to co-exist with the current OPEN DVD market. DIVX intended to be an "additional feature". However, DIVX involved not only $5 a pop non-returnable "rental" discs, but DIVX "GOLD" and "SILVER" discs. These DIVX discs served the exact same purpose as OPEN DVD discs by being unlimited in the number of times they can be viewed (selling for roughly the same price as a standard OPEN DVD disc), but once again, thy were only viewable on DIVX-ready hardware. This hardly sounded like an attempt to co-exist with a format that already offered this functionality. This was more like an attempt at controlling a potentially very lucrative market.

    When reading through DIVX propaganda, it was easy to see that a major marketing ploy of theirs was the notion that, "Now you can easily 'rent' a movie without having to return it or suffer late charges!" However, the idea of our country's landfills becoming increasingly populated with discarded DIVX discs raised some questions. Later, the DIVX people claimed that they put together a procedure for recycling discarded discs. While there once was no need to return these discs... there soon was.

    Circuit City, The Good Guys and Ultimate Electronics carried DIVX.

    Matsushita, Zenith, Harmon Kardon, RCA/Proscan, and others had announced that they would be releasing DIVX DVD players in '98-'99. Nothing of outstanding quality ever came to be.

    Paramount, Disney, Fox, Universal, MGM, and Dreamworks announced they would be releasing films on DIVX. In turn, these companies were to be given a collective sum of $100 million over the next five years for their participation. Inevitably, Divx did not last for even two years of that time.

    Circuit City was a major player in DIVX and had roughly $200 million invested (not including an initial $30 million over the last three years and not including ANY of the millions invested as compensation to DIVX participating studios) in DIVX allowing them 65% ownership (the other 35% belonging to the LA based law firm). At the time, Circuit City still sold standard DVD players - all of which were to become completely obsolete should their investment succeeded by meeting their ultimate and primary goal.

    DIVX sales were never discussed in detail. Only a reference to their total players sold was ever really mentioned. The key factor in the success of this format would be the number of accounts avtivated. Apparently, this unknown number of activated accounts was not enough to keep the ball rolling.

    During the Divx run, R. Sharp showed dissatisfaction (perhaps a lack of confidence) with DIVX's involvement with Zenith. The RCA and Proscan players were to be a DIVX-hopeful step forward.

    R. Sharp had also admitted that DIVX's advertising budget would eventuallly be scaled back 40% from $100 million to $60 million, for its launch.

    Such a proposal at the time left the consumer in confusion. Confusion is simply not good for the success of ANY new technology.

    Final OPEN DVD Hold Outs:

    • For a long time there were a number of studios that announced they would release films to Divx with no mention of what was to come for standard DVD. This further angered early adopters of the format as they were now faced with the fact that their expensive machines may never get a chance to see the light of many studio films. Eventually, all DVD hold out studios came around to announcing support for the format.

    Other Past DIVX Information:

      Various Comments:
    • DIVX could be interpreted as being designed to put video rental companies out of business. It was expected for companies like Hollywood Video and Blockbuster to retaliate by being quick to point out the higher cost of DIVX discs compared to current rental costs of the time. With these companies offering video rentals in the $1-3 range, it was likely they would be quick to jump on the ANTI-DIVX/PRO-DVD bandwagon simply because they could show for lower rental costs on DVD then could DIVX. Blockbuster later began a national rollout of DVD rentals.

    • Retailers were generally very unenthusiastic about DIVX as indicated in an article in the L.A. Times. Studios admired DIVX simply because it transfers rental revenue straight to their pockets. There was little in it for the retailers (other than Circuit City, which was of course an investor in the technology). In an interview, the head of Tower Records claimed he could see absolutely no reason why they would want to carry DIVX discs.

    • It has been made clear that Columbia/TriStar, New Line, and Warner were not expecting to ever support DIVX claiming they believed it to be a consumer confusing and, essentially, a very bad idea.

    • Paramount, Fox, and Dreamworks were originally a worry regarding possible exclusivness to DIVX. However, they would later announce their plans to release on OPEN DVD.

    • The prevention of sales of standard DVD players in the fourth quarter of 1997 can be suggested as the reason why the DIVX announcement was made at that time. For those against the idea of Divx succeeding, buying a standard DVD player was a step in the right direction for voicing your opinion against DIVX.

    • May we have a moment of silence for the playing of Taps. <*Taps*> After announcing support for Circuit City's Divx, Zenith would file for Chapter 11. Looks like even Cicruit City's $120 million couldn't help carry them along.

    • At the ABC NEWS website, of the nearly 4,000 votes tallied on the question, "Would you pay $449.99 for a DIVX player?", roughly 98.2% aanswered with a NO and 1.8% with a YES.

    • With the obvious points aside, many Divx supporters were confused by why so many people decided to take such a powerful anti-Divx stance and not incorporate more of an "open mind" with their beliefs regarding this new technology. Clearly, many of these Divx supporters were not present during the initial Divx unveiling back in mid-to-late 1997. Circuit City/Divx would CHANGE their attitude after some time -- but many of us did NOT forget. Those of you who weren't supporting the DVD technology back at this time (which without us - Divx would never have existed at all), were not subject to the arrogant attitude expressed via Circuit City/Divx/Richard Sharp. Those early adopters were basically told to in so many words to stuff-it where the sun don't shine. Divx also introduced the idea of a "Gold" Divx disc which was a disc you could purchase directly from the retailer which allowed unlimited viewing. Clearly, if Divx was designed to co-exist with DVD, this was certainly no attempt to take a step down that path. If Divx was designed for the rental market, why was it necessary for a "competitive" disc such as this? In the final few months, Circuit City/Divx put the "Gold" disc on the back burner. The details surrounding this disc fueled much of what had become a large Anti-Divx campaign.

    • In conclusion, Divx was a technology to be embraced for the right reasons and benefits. If you are a person who primarily rents their movies and greatly dislikes the trips back to the video store and any potential late fee's, then Divx was for you. But, the buyer was to be wary of the limitations. You may have thought you "owned" what was called a "Silver" (Divx disc converted to unlimited viewings) disc from Divx, but when you were unable to play this disc on ANY other player or account -- that was a fairly limited definition of "owning".

    • When Divx folded, R. Sharp stated the technology did not have enough financial backing and market acceptance. They pulled down their Divx signs and dropped a $100 off all of their Divx machines in stock. They offered a $100 rebate to anyone who had purchased a Divx player to cover the additional cost of the Divx hardware in a unit that otherwise played DVDs just fine. All pre-purchased Divx discs of any kind would be usable until June 30th, 2001. Divx discs will otherwise never play again.

    Knowing the information you now know, do you like the DIVX technology?

    Final Poll Results

    Yes Votes208
    No Votes1380
    Undecided Votes46
    Don't Care Votes21

    This poll is closed.

    Reader Response

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