Thursday, December 13, 2007
As the format war between Sony's Blu-ray and Toshiba's HD-DVD high def DVD formats wears on and both sides continue to look for a way to gain an edge in the competition, different parties on both sides are sending mixed messages when it comes to the direction that the battle is taking.
One example of this is the fact that Panasonic recently stated that Blu-ray is the clear winner in the format war. Despite the fact that such a statement sounds like hubris- and that at least one supporter of HD-DVD made a similar assertion about that format almost a year ago- there is evidence that the statement may be correct, even if it is a bit premature. For instance, Blu-ray discs have been outselling HD-DVD discs by an average of two to one and by over three to one by some estimates. At the same time, there are significantly more Blu-ray players (including Sony's Play Station 3 which can also play Blu-ray discs) in American homes than there are HD-DVD players. Considering the fact that HD-DVD has been available longer and that HD-DVD players cost about half of what Blu-ray players do, implies that consumers like the Blu-ray format better. In fact, not only is it apparent that consumers like Blu-ray more than HD-DVD, but that they like it so much more that they're willing to pay a lot more for the Blu-ray technology.
Another indication that the format war may be drawing to a close comes from the fact that Warner Brothers is delaying the introduction of its dual format high def DVD's. These discs are intended to allow consumers to hedge their bets when it comes to investing in the wrong technology by offering a movie in both formats on the same disc. One side of a disc contains the movie in HD-DVD and the other side of the disc contains the same movie in Blu-ray. If these discs become the norm, it won't matter which type of high def DVD player consumers buy because at least one side of the disc will always be compatible with it. The decision to delay the release of this technology is seen by some industry analysts as an indication that the format war may be near a conclusion- one way or the other- and that such a disc won't be needed by consumers.
There are some things that indicate that the format war may not be over. For example, throughout the months of July, August, and September anyone who buys a Blu-ray player will be able to get five movies on Blu-ray disc free of charge. At the same time, many Blu-ray players are expected to decrease in price over the next year. Both of those moves seem to be more along the lines of increasing the incentive for consumers to choose Blu-ray than the actions of the side who has already won.
On the other hand, maybe offering free movies and reducing the prices of Blu-ray players is intended to drive the nail into HD-DVD's coffin. Perhaps we'll find out over the next few months!