Friday, December 07, 2007
There are a lot of different high definition technologies on the market right now, but none of them are getting as much attention as high def DVD technology. While media attention is generally good thing for new types of technology and the devices that take advantage of them, the attention that high def DVD technology has been getting is something of a mixed bag. That's because, the attention that's being given to this technology is focused on the fact that there are two separate high def DVD formats that are in direct competition with each other.
In many ways, you might think that any media attention given to a new technology on the consumer electronics market would probably be a good thing, but in this case the coverage of the situation is less than flattering for both companies. That's because both companies have made numerous errors in marketing that have alienated consumers.
For example, Sony introduced its Blu-ray high def DVD format right after Toshiba introduced its HD-DVD format. It should have been obvious to Sony that introducing a rival format mere weeks after the first format was introduced would prompt a format war, but if anyone at Sony was actually thinking about the timing of this move, they probably figured that all of the money that the winning format could stand to make would justify going through a protracted format war. The fact that Sony instigated the format war in this way may turn consumers off to its Blu-ray products though.
Toshiba hasn't really been any better about the way it has waged the format war. While Toshiba didn't start the format war, it has tried to end it on several different occasions by simply declaring victory. The consumers- who would very much like to take advantage of high def DVD technology but don't want to invest their hard earned money in the losing format- haven't fallen for this ploy. Toshiba has also failed to garner support from nearly as many movie studios as Blu-ray and has the disadvantage of having an alliance with Microsoft in supporting HD-DVD technology.
The next blunder that Sony made was to put a Blu-ray drive in the latest iteration of its popular Play Station video gaming devices. This was actually a good move strategically in the sense that the Blu-ray drive allowed gaming fans who were going to buy the Play Station 3 anyway to experience the Blu-ray format at the same time. In order to prompt early adopters to try out its new high def DVD format, Sony included a movie on a Blu-ray disc with the first hundred thousand units.
There were two ways that this fell apart for Sony though. First of all, Sony allowed the inclusion of Blu-ray technology to drive up the price of the Play Station 3 to the point where fewer people bought it for its own sake. Second, Sony failed to include the remote control and HDMI cable that were necessary to watch Blu-ray discs in the same box with the Play Station 3. Both items cost a total of about seventy dollars sold separately, and given that they were both necessary to watch Blu-ray discs, not including them really defeated the whole point of including a movie on Blu-ray with the purchase.
One thing that we can be fairly certain about with the high def DVD format war is that one of the two formats will come out on top. The only question is whether or not consumers will care for the technology by the time that happens.