Thursday, February 15, 2007
This move was considered a big step toward ending the format war between Sony's Blu-ray and Toshiba's HD-DVD high definition television DVD formats. Both rely on similar technologies to encode enough data on an optical disc the same size as a normal DVD or CD, but are incompatible and therefore can't be played on each other's players. It's a foregone conclusion that when the dust settles from the format war that only one format will still be available to consumers. Because consumers still remember the Betamax/VHS video cassette format war from the nineteen eighties, even hard core high definition television devotees have been hesitant to risk buying into a format that will be obsolete in a matter of months or years. Both Toshiba and Sony have had the strategy of motivating consumers to buy movie titles and technology that takes advantage of their own format, with the idea that if enough people invest in one format or the other, movie studios and software companies will release their titles in the format that appears to be winning the war. Once enough titles are released in either format, consumers will have confidence in that format and the war will have been won. Sony hoped that the Play Station 3 would cause the situation to tip in its favor.
There's evidence that Sony was right about the Plays Station 3. Now, counting the Play Station 3, Blu-ray Disc Players are in over four hundred thousand homes across the United States. Which is a huge lead over HD-DVD players which are estimated to be in fewer than one hundred thousand homes.
Unfortunately for Sony, there have been a few gaffs that may have hurt the chances that the Blu-ray format will take hold and have undoubtedly hurt confidence in Sony. The first and most obvious problem comes from the fact that, despite advertising that the Play Station 3 could display video games and movies in high definition on a high definition television, the gaming platform didn't come with the necessary cables to display computer graphics and video in high definition. On top of that, the Blu-ray remote control needed to play movies on Blu-ray disc wasn't included. Together, the cables and the remote cost about seventy five dollars. There's little doubt that this will cause a fair amount of frustration among Play Station fans.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 on the other hand has an add on component that turns it into an HD-DVD player and comes with all of the necessary connections for a much lower prices. Even though, by all accounts, the Blu-ray format appears to be the superior technology, the errors of Sony may hurt the Blu-ray format in the long run.