Thursday, January 10, 2008

Warner Bros. takes Blu-ray stand

The entertainment company Warner Bros. has decided to publish movies exclusively in the Blu-ray DVD format from June 1, 2008 onwards. This is a heavy blow for the Toshiba and Microsoft, who support the HD-DVD format.

Many signs point to the end play of this company power game between industrial camps. It is clear that consumers are not being impressed by technology specs, but want one format and a reasonably priced DVD player. It is the old video recorder lesson, when JVC won from Sony’s Betamax and Philips’ V2000 (they also happen to be technically superior to the JVC recorder).

In the development of the first DVD format a dichotomy was also showing between the CD inventors Sony/Philips and Toshiba. But pressured by IBM and some armwresling by Jan Timmer the companies produced one standard format. And again Toshiba split off when the high definition DVD had to be standardised. The main difference between the two formats is in the storage capability; the Blue-ray format can comprise 25GB on a single layer and HD-DVD can contain 15GB. Of course both camps hold several patents, which they like to use in their players.

Why does it look like an end-play? With Warner Bros. taking sides with Blu-ray all kind of rumours spring up and certainly during the Consumer Electronics Show, which is being held. Toshiba was supposed to hold a press conference at CES, but cancelled, feeding speculations. So, rumour has it that Apple will implement a Blu-ray DVD player in its new computer model. And to top it all even the movie company Paramount is said to return to the Blu-ray DVD club with Philips and Sony.

However the consumer is putting on pressure too. The consumer is not going to buy two high definition DVD recorders, except for the buffs. But presently the economic crisis is not contributing either to the sale of high definition DVD recorders. First the mortgage and then the luxury. With this tight budget – if one still has some room in the budget – people do not want to be confronted with a choice out of two and a lock-in by technology. Consumers look at the camp with the most movies and the most solid commitment; last April Toshiba sold its movie and DVD division. And movie companies look at the market place and ask themselves where they can sell most.

Also regional differences play a role in the DVD format battle. Blu-ray and HD-DVD are in direct battle on the US market and HD-DVD has an edge on Blu-Ray. The companies always introduce their devices at a later point in time in Asia and Europe. In Europe Blu-ray is ahead due to its implementation in Play Station 3; Microsoft delivers to the Xbox an optional HD-DVD player.

So the end-play has started. When will it be over? I guess that HD-DVD will be over and buried by the summer, certainly if more movie companies join Blu-ray and Microsoft starts implementing Blu-ray in its new edition of Xbox.

Blog Posting Number: 973

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