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Sunday, February 26, 2006

The NY Times on changing winds in the Blu-ray/HD-DVD rivalry

Ken Belson of the NY Times writes today about changing winds in land of high-def DVDs. The piece is headlined, `In Sony's Stumble, the Ghost of Betamax'. As evidence that HD-DVD is gaining momentum, Belson writes:

    Hewlett-Packard withdrew its exclusive support of Blu-ray. This month, another member of the Blu-ray camp, LG Electronics, hedged its bets, too, signing a deal to license Toshiba's [HD-DVD] technology.

    And earlier this month, one of the main reasons underpinning Microsoft's move to shuck its neutrality [and join the HD-DVD camp] — the complexity of producing Blu-ray technology — led to Sony's acknowledgment that it might delay this spring's scheduled release of its PlayStation 3 game console partly because the needed technology was still being worked out.

    The possible delay and the Blu-ray group's loss of its once-commanding lead are not encouraging developments for Sony in its attempt to revive its electronics group after a series of bungles. PlayStation 3 is crucial to Sony's future, and not only because the latest version of its gaming consoles could generate billions in revenue; the new machines will include disc drives that will turn them into Blu-ray DVD players as well.

Belson notes that HD-DVD players will hit the market first, with the cheapest selling for $499. Blu-ray players will follow, selling for about twice as much. Sounds like a real recipe for success...

Later, Belson quotes a retailer saying the format battle will undoubtedly hurt consumers:

    "Both sides are digging in their heels and stupidity has prevailed," said Joe McGuire, the chief executive of Tweeter, a high-end electronics chain. Mr. McGuire called the failure of the two camps to agree on a single format "criminal" and said he would have a hard time advising consumers. "The answer to which is better is: 'We don't know,' " he said. "I'm tempted not to sell anyone these machines."


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