Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hi Def Wars Over? Or Not Over?

USA Today says that the battle over HD continues (so what do I know?):

During the last six weeks, Hollywood studios, consumer electronics companies and retailers have given Sony's (SNE) Blu-ray format a seemingly insurmountable edge over its rival high-definition DVD format: Toshiba's HD DVD...

"Warner's jump was the last straw to break the camel's back," says Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment President Bob Chapek. "The format war's over."

Well, maybe. The HD DVD camp — which includes Universal, Paramount, DreamWorks Animation and Microsoft (MSFT)— hasn't raised a white flag yet.

But it also isn't predicting victory ...

Well. That's clear enough. HD has lost out to Blu Ray. Unless it hasn't. Got it.

"There are a lot of other product areas where different formats coexist," says Jodi Sally, vice president of marketing for Toshiba's digital AV group. "Look at gaming (where Nintendo and Microsoft compete with Sony). There are discs that won't play in each other's machines. Apparently that is the current scenario" for high-def DVDs.

Don't think so. How long did Betamax co-exist with VHS? A couple of years? Then it was over.

I think there's minimal chance that two semi-identical but incompatible formats will be flourishing side by side. Just doesn't make sense. Sooner rather than later, the marketplace will sort out a winner, and this time, Sony will probably win.

If two formats are going to be duking it out over a long period of time, it will probably be high-def downloads vs. a single disk format. Not Blu-Ray vs. HD.

Update: Okay, we can say with certainty that USA Today has its head up the old large intestine. Because now this has happened:

HD DVD, the beloved format of Toshiba and three Hollywood studios, died Friday after a brief illness. The cause of death was determined to be the decision by Wal-Mart to stock only high-definition DVDs and players using the Blu-ray format.

The format war confounded and frustrated consumers in Tokyo, above, and elsewhere. There are no funeral plans, but retailers and industry analysts are already writing the obituary for HD DVD.

So it's downloads (out there in the future, maybe) and Blu-ray. Roger on that.


Anonymous said...

You know, the industry might be pushing for downloadable content, but there are those of us who don't like to pay for something that can only be viewed for a limited time. I like to buy the disk (dvd,blu-ray, whatever) pop it into the player, heat up some pop corn and enjoy!

The only thing is those stupid warnings at the beguining of the movie. Hey guys, I bought the disk, I payed for it, I don't need to be treating like a five year old. Give me the option to skip the darn warning!

I rant therefore I am....


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