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Saturday, February 16, 2008

The final post about the Blu-ray / HD DVD format war?

The final nails were hammered into HD DVD's coffin this week, with Netflix, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart deciding to stock only Blu-ray discs and players.

Here's an obituary from today's NY Times.

From the Times piece:

    Thus far, consumers have purchased about one million Blu-ray players, though there are another three million in the market that are integrated into the PlayStation 3 consoles of Sony, said Richard Doherty, research director of Envisioneering, a technology assessment firm. About one million HD DVD players have been sold.

    Evenly matched by Blu-ray through 2007, HD DVD experienced a marked reversal in fortune in early January when Warner Brothers studio, a unit of Time Warner, announced it would manufacture and distribute movies only in Blu-ray. With the Warner decision, the Blu-ray coalition controlled around 75 percent of the high-definition content from the major movie and TV studios. The coalition includes Sharp, Panasonic and Philips as well as Walt Disney and 20th Century Fox studios.


ZDNet covers the Netflix and Best Buy decisions from earlier in the week.

Earlier, people had predicted that Sony's PlayStation 3, which included a Blu-ray player, would help Blu-ray edge ahead. Others thought that the availability of X-rated movies on HD DVD, or that format's cheaper equipment, would help it win. HD DVD was also the first to hit the market, in the spring of 2006.

Right now, though, it looks like Warner Bros. helped break the tie between the two formats in January, by announcing that it'd release movies only in the Blu-ray format; the studio had previously been releasing in both Blu-ray and HD DVD. History, of course, may eventually reveal that some other force was involved (conspiracy theorists imagine a giant payment to Warner Bros. from Blu-ray patent holder Sony Electronics, for instance).

It's interesting to me that it was Warner Bros. that helped make sure the studios coalesced around the original standard-definition DVD format in the 1990s... and that the Warner Bros. executive who led that effort, Warren Lieberfarb, wound up as a consultant for the HD DVD camp this time around.

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