Update: Toshiba has announced that they will no longer promote HD-DVD. Blu-ray has won.
I have a personal interest in the recent news coming out of CES and now Variety. I worked on the Blu-ray Disc Association from late 2004 to 2005 while I was with Blanc & Otus. Wow – that was a long time ago during the early years of the high-definition format wars!
At the time, the PR effort was focused on educating manufacturers and content providers (e.g., the studios) about the large support behind the Blu-ray format. At the time, the only major manufacturer NOT backing the format was Toshiba, who backed the HD-DVD format. Then there were the studios. The assumption was whomever could get the most content would have an edge.
It was unfortunate because the whole “format war” could have been avoided.
But who’s the true winner here?
So fast forward to 2008 and it seems that Blu-ray may finally getting the edge over HD-DVD. Despite the bottom prices of HD-DVD, Sony’s PlayStation probably had a huge influence in the adoption of the Blu-ray format.
However, the possibility of downloading high-definition movies digitally is more a reality than two years ago. Why purchase another “DVD” player when my local cable company can provide me with a set-top box for downloading movies or TiVo adds this ability for current subscribers.
In my case, I don’t have TiVo or advanced cable service. Instead, I go online to watch episodes that I’ve missed, which raises another option – delivery to the computer.
How long will this last?
If you’re like me and believe that Blu-ray will be the standard for high-definition viewing, then how long will the format be around?
This much is true – people are buying HD TVs. They want more than Discovery Channel in HD. Some will pay the premium to cable companies to get on-demand HD. But most, like me, will want the ability to get a rental movie delivered via Netflix or at my local Blockbuster.
Even then, we may be a few years before digital downloads rival Blu-ray players and Playstations for viewing movies.
So what do I think?
Frankly, I’m tickled pink. I truly believe that the Blu-ray format is better. I wish the association well and look forward to seeing how this will finally enable manufacturers to focus on consumer products.
This is an interesting case study in how a format war unfolds and a winner is eventually picked.