Wednesday, January 10, 2007
The war between Sony's Blu-ray and its rival HD-DVD format made by Toshiba has been raging for quite some time now. Both formats were intended to be the dominant format of High Definition Digital Video Disc, but were introduced virtually simultaneously and have gotten in the way of each other attaining dominance in the market. This isn't too surprising given the memories of the VHS/Betamax video cassette format war back in the eighties. Like VHS and Betamax, the Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats aren't compatible with each other and only one is expected to survive the war. This has essentially frozen the market both for the discs and the players because no one wants to get stuck with a machine that only plays the losing format or discs that can't be played by any machines.
Now some industry analysts are suggesting that the stalemate could be broken by Sony's North American release of it's Play Station 3 on November the seventeenth. The Play Station 3, also known as the PS3, is a video gaming platform. Its earlier versions have been popular since the early nineties and it now has an incredible number of video game titles in existence. The Play Station 3 is expected to be in high demand because of its loyal following and realistic graphics. The graphics on the Play Station 3 are purported to be so realistic that people watching it have to remind themselves that it's a video game rather than video footage of a real event.
The Play Station 3 is likely to give the Blu-ray High Definition DVD format a boost because it contains a Blu-ray drive and all Play Station 3 games come in Blu-ray format. The Play Station 3 can also play movies on Blu-ray discs onto a High Definition Television set at resolutions as high as 1080p. Because the Play Station 3 possesses this combination of features, Sony is releasing a popular movie title on a Blu-ray disc along with the first four hundred thousand Play Station 3's sold in North America. The reasoning is that Play Station fans will buy the new Play Station 3 for its own sake, get the disc with the movie on it, watch the movie, and be so impressed with the picture quality of the Blu-ray format that they'll go ahead and buy more movies on Blu-ray discs to play on their new video game consoles thereby breaking the stalemate.
The one thing that many analysts don't consider very realistic about this plan is that the Play Station 3, at $500 to $600, is cost prohibitive. This is a realistic concern, but it's probably a better idea to look at the total value that the money will bring to consumers. For up to $600 dollars, a consumer gets a state of the art video game system and High Definition DVD player in one and a movie on Blu-ray disc as a bonus. Compare that to a Blu-ray player alone which costs in the ballpark of $1,000 and the Play Station 3 seems like a deal. The fact is that video gaming enthusiasts would probably by the unit anyway just for the realistic gaming experience, and a home entertainment enthusiast might buy it as a Blu-ray player at half the normal price just to try out the technology. The Play Station 3 happens to be both, so how could it not be a winner?