I wanted to post about this days ago, but I’ve just broken free from the clutches of UNIX shell script while trying to get my rapidly multiplying Subversion repositories backed up. As much as it pains me to say it, I believe the death knell has sounded for HD-DVD.
The Sony hype-machine has been in full swing these last 2(ish) years. They were determined not to lose this one. They lost Betamax. They lost MultiMedia Compact Disc (albeit, without a fight). They lost MiniDisc. UMD still hasn’t caught on. They were not going to lose the Blu-ray/HD-DVD battle.
Friday, Warner (a.k.a. AOL Time Warner) announced that they were dumping their dual-format support (which never favored HD-DVD as all their BD releases came out months before the HD-DVDs) and had chosen Blu-ray Disc to standardize on. They claim that “Consumers have clearly chosen Blu-ray…” Of course, on the opposite side is Toshiba (who heavily backs HD-DVD and is one of the inventors), who says, “HD DVD players and PCs have outsold Blu-ray in the US market in 2007.” Well, who are you going to believe?
I have always said that the battle would rage on as long as studios supported both formats, but it looks like HD-DVD’s studio support has drawn to an end. Universal and Paramount/Dreamworks remain in the HD-DVD camp (along with a few small studios), but Warner’s defection serves to put the lion’s share of studio support behind BD. Personally, I blame the PS3. Sony claimed EVERY PS3 as a “Blu-ray Player Sold” even though repeated surveys showed that most people were buying them to play games and didn’t even care (or, in some cases know) that they played Blu-ray discs.
I still hold to the hope that the dual-format players will come down very quickly in price (as both single-format players have), but if HD-DVD doesn’t hold out for the coming year and stay alive, the incentive for the manufacturers to build a dual-format player will just not be there. HD-DVD had everything going for it. It was cheaper to make the players, cheaper to make the discs, and cheaper to re-tool the factories (as it uses the same pressing technology as standard def DVDs).
It’s really too bad. Sony is not a company known for being good to its customers/consumers (remember the Sony/BMG rootkit scandal anyone?) and this much power in their hands is going to be nothing but bad for consumers. Perhaps the worst part of it, though, is that New Line is a Warner subsidiary and now we will never see how awesome an HD-DVD box-set of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy would be. I would’ve been there Day One and paid anything they asked for a piece of that!
So, HD-DVD is dead. Long live HD-DVD!