Recemt sales in consumer electronics exhibitions had been focusing on Blu-ray players – or at least that’s what I had been seeing. Either that or the marketing that was done was really good. For the uninitiated, the Blu-ray is just 1 of 2 of the successors of DVD technology – promising to provide higher definition playback as well as other enhanced features. Blu-ray promises a larger capacity and better protection while HD DVD – the other competitor seems to provide only higher definition.

Perhaps the marketing strengths of Sony – who owns Blu-ray, had been really good because I can probably recall about hearing a Blu-ray player, but a HD DVD player? Hmm… probably just HDTV.

LOS ANGELES – THE high-definition DVD war is all but over.

Hollywood’s squabble over which of two technologies will replace standard DVDs skewed in the direction of Sony Corp late last week, with Warner Brothers casting the deciding vote in favour of the company’s Blu-ray discs over the rival HD DVD format.

In some ways, the fight is a replay of the VHS versus Betamax battle of the 1980s.

This time, however, the Sony product appears to have prevailed.

‘The overwhelming industry opinion is that this decides the format battle in favour of Blu-ray,’ said Mr Richard Doherty, research director of Envisioneering Group, a market research company in New York.

Behind the studio’s decision are industry-wide fears about the sagging home entertainment market, which has bruised the movie industry in recent years as piracy, competition from video games and the Internet, and soaring costs have cut into profitability.

Analysts predict that domestic DVD sales fell by nearly 3 per cent last year, partly because of confusion over the various formats.

But HD DVD is not dead.

Two major studios, Paramount Pictures and Universal Pictures, have deals in place to continue releasing their movies exclusively on HD DVD, as does DreamWorks Animation.

Warner Brothers, part of Time Warner, will also continue to release its titles on both formats until the end of May. But by supporting Blu-ray, Warner Brothers, the largest player in the US$42 billion (S$60 billion) global home entertainment market, makes it next to impossible for HD DVD to recover its early momentum.

Consumers have been largely sitting on the sidelines waiting to buy high-definition DVD players until they see which will have the most titles available.

Retailers have been complaining about having to devote space to three kinds of DVDs, and the movie business has delayed tapping a lucrative new market.

‘Consolidating into one format is something that we felt was necessary for the health of the industry,’ said Mr Barry Meyer, chief executive of Warner Brothers.

With Warner on board, Blu-ray now has about 70 per cent of the market.

Toshiba said in a statement it was quite surprised and particularly disappointed by Warner’s decision.

Which technology is better has been the subject of intense debate. HD DVD players have been much cheaper, but Blu-ray discs have more storage space and more advanced protection against piracy. Both versions deliver sharp resolution.

Blu-ray titles have sharply outsold HD DVD offerings by as much two to one, according to some analysts.

In Singapore, sales of either type of disc have been slow to pick up as well.

Retailers say regular DVDs outsell Blu-ray and HD DVD discs 20 to 1.

Viewers have stayed away because players are still expensive – usually at $1,000 or more. They are also waiting for more titles to ship in the new formats.

As of last month, there were about 100 such titles in either Blu-ray or HD DVD, compared with about 1,000 in the United States.

NEW YORK TIMES

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 7th January 2008



Reader's Comments

  1. Alien TYC | January 7th, 2008 at 10:39 am

    I stay away from post-war on DVD formats until there are more affordable DVD players of those in the market

  2. Joe | January 7th, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    HD-DVD is good for consumers; Blu-Ray is good for the Movie Studios. The format war makes it clear which of the companies involved care more for their customers. Unfortunately the customers are losing this time.

  3. Terence F. | January 8th, 2008 at 12:32 am

    I’ve watched about 20 Blu-ray DVDs over the past few months on a 48″ LCD. My conclusion: $750 for the disks and $600 for the player were mostly wasted. The quality is a little better, but not enough to justify the INCREDIBLE cost. And the difference in picture is not that great: I have several movies on both DVD and Blu-ray, and using a $79 upscaling DVD player, the $9 DVDs are almost indistiguishable from the $35 Blu-rays.

    As for the extra space and extra content, mostly hype. Some disks have a token set of deleted scenes, but it’s mostly the same old crap: tons of space and time taken up by trailers (advertising is premium content??) and useless info that is much more appropriate (and richer) being accessed directly from the internet.

    Blu-ray has a couple of benefits for users, but most of the benefits are for Sony and the movie studios, who expect to sell us the same crap at 3 times the price.

  4. Kiko Jones | January 8th, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Blu-ray is better for all parties involved since it holds more data. People who say high def is “almost the same” as regular DVDs obviously have inferior HD-TVs. On my 52″ 1080p Sharp AQUUOS hooked to my PS3, Blu-ray looks flawless. I refuse to pay more for an HD cable box, though, since they will be free in a year or so when broadcasting switches to all digital.

  5. Clayton J. | January 10th, 2008 at 4:46 am

    I agree with Kiko here. I’ve watched Blu-ray movies on both a 42″ 1080p LCD and a 106″ screen for a 1080p LCD projector. The amount of detail in a Blu-ray movie is much greater than an up converted DVD. My friends who aren’t computer or video buffs have also been able to tell a difference between when I show them a movie on DVD and the same one on Blu-ray.

    I do see Blu-ray as being better for consumers as well in the long run. I see its value as a storage medium. With 25GB and 50GB discs here now (with other 100GB discs being developed as we speak) this format has much more room to grow.

  6. Simply Jean | January 29th, 2008 at 11:33 am

    @Alien TYC: yes, it’s still a little too dear for me…

    @Joe: well… the best is probably to take a wait and see approach, i guess. hm…

    @Terence F.: i have not watched any movies on any of these new formats yet… but from Kiko and Clayton, it seems to be good… maybe it’s in the TV?

    @Kiko Jones: hmm.. it seems like that’s a freeze on the boxes now. starhub is not budging and nediacorp is not paying more 😛

    @Clayton J.: oh well, it’s a tech chase, isn’t it?

  7. Michael | June 3rd, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Very good article. Thanks for the good information!.

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