08 January 2008

Game Over: Blu-Ray seems to have won

This story over at TechCrunch points to the end of HD-DVD in the format wars. From the point of view of standards rivalry, what event(s) "tipped" the scales in favor of Blu-Ray? Warner's decision was clearly the precipitating event, but what was it that caused Warner to make this decision? Technical features of Blu-Ray? Sponsorship (via side payments)?

According to this article over at Forbes, the content industry is more interested in a standard, regardless of which. Their concern is the market for digital media.

I think the speculation that this may be hollow victory is more interesting ... quoting the Forbes article:

But Sony can't afford to spend too long drinking the champagne. The real news isn't that HD-DVD's future looks grim. It's that if Blu-Ray's backers can finish off HD-DVD quickly, Blu-Ray might have one.

With Apple, Amazon.com, NetFlix and Microsoft pushing downloadable movies and cable and phone companies peddling a plethora of on-demand, high-definition content, the day is coming when the stacks of plain vanilla DVDs that clutter many home entertainment centers will go the way of the CD collection.

JVC even introduced a flat-screen television at the International Consumer Electronics Show that allows users to simply pop in one of Apple's iPods to watch video content--threatening to turn the slim media players into an alternative to digital video discs. And Panasonic is building iPod docks into its home theater systems alongside an integrated Blu-Ray player.

Another worry, according to Robin Harris, an analyst with the Data Mobility Group, is that Blu-Ray adoption will be slow because few people will notice the difference between formats, since many players can neatly "up-convert" DVDs for high-definition sets. As a result, few will opt to replace their entire DVD libraries, as many did with the earlier generation of videotapes. "So is this going to be a pyrrhic victory for Sony? I think that there's a fair chance that it will be," Harris says.

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