Xbox lead planner Albert Penello didn't predict Sony would focus on 4K streaming over 4K discs.
Sony dropping 4K Blu-Ray took Xbox by surprise
The console wars aren't quite as pronounced these days, but publishers still try to one-up the competition, attempting to do everything your opponent is but with one unique twist. That's why it was odd when Sony ignored 4K Blu-Ray support for the PS4 Pro, something Microsoft is still using for the Xbox One S and Project Scorpio. And if that surprised you, don't worry - it actually caught Microsoft off guard too.
"I don’t want to bait any sort of console war, I have a lot of respect for what Sony does, but analytically, I think they made some interesting decisions in their product that surprised me," lead Xbox planner Albert Penello said. "The lack of a 4K disc player, given Sony’s media background, was a surprise. Looking at what they’ve done historically, I don’t think many people would have predicted that."
To its credit, Sony actually has a pretty good reason for dropping 4K Blu-Ray: The entire industry is moving towards streaming so adding support now may not be cost-effective in the long-term. But Microsoft not taking that detail into account does suggest there's some uncertainty for what the 4K market will actually look like, even if 4K displays are the general trend.
"Naturally technology is going to migrate to 4K," Penello continued. "This is not a flash in the pan – it’s not like 3D TV, it’s not like Smart TVs, I think that 4K is going to be, over the next few years, the predominant screen resolution that people are going to buy when they upgrade their sets. There are groups of data that have varying market share stats, but they pretty much agree that 4K will eventually take over.
"Personally, I think the shift from SD to HD was very meaningful – and I think the same about the move from 1080p to 4K. I do believe that, once the content starts to show up, people will be like, wow, this is worth the upgrade. When you look at a UHD Blu-ray, when you look at a 4K HDR streams from Netflix or Amazon, I believe you can really see the difference."