In what can only be seen as a very presumptuous article, c|net has called the format war between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray over.
The HD-DVD consortium cancelled their CES show after Warner announced they were moving exlcusively to Blu-Ray for High Definition movie releases. Historically Warner released on both formats, with a pretty even sales result across the two platforms (60% on Blu-Ray and 40% on HD-DVD) – Source AP.
So how does this end the format war? In the HD-DVD camp you still have a number of studios releasing exclusively on the HD-DVD side (Universal, Paramaount, and Weinstein). Blu-Ray has Sony, Fox, Warner and Lionsgate. When you read this list the war can hardly be considered over.
The war will continue to wage for years to come, until the consumer adopts on mass. From a consumer perspective, many (including myself) are sitting on the sidelines and not buying into either HD-DVD or Blu-Ray. There are many reasons for this, but from my perspective there are three primary factors.
- Region Protection. I didn’t buy a DVD player until I could get a region free one. This meant I could buy and watch films out of the US and asia. With HD-DVD and Blu-Ray I am restricted by regions again (although with HD-DVD only regular DVD playback is restricted). I am yet to find a firmware hack that will allow a HD-DVD player or Blu-Ray player let me have region 0 DVD playback. And Blu-Ray has a new different region coding for HD titles.
- Dual format Players. The average consumer is not going to spend $400 plus on something that may be obsolete in a year or two. In the PC market mass adoption of DVD was driven by the multi-format drives. When multi-format players become affordable, the consumer will buy them, and then it won’t matter who wins the war.
- Cost of the media. Both Blu-Ray ad HD-DVD titles are way too pricey. When the price of blank media for use with your DV handicam are affordable then the consumer will adopt, but no consumer at the moment will contemplate a Blu-ray or HD-DVD burner for home video use. They are just to pricey. And the price of movies is just as over the top. Sure the enthusiast will pay more for HD, but not the average consumer. Bring the price of the titles down to the same as DVD and people will be more likely to consider a purchase
So basically, at the moment the consumer is being screwed, and when that happens they keep their cash in their pocket. While I don’t think the dual format issue will happen until one of the two consortiums is miles ahead, the key is issues 1 and 3. Whoever deals with media cost and region protection best from the consumers perspective will tie up a large chunk of the market, and likely win the war.