Who would have thought that one film studio would cause the billion dollar home video market to change almost overnight? Of course, the only studio that could would be Warner Bros. since it owns a 20% share in DVD and VHS shares. It stood the most to gain and lose from the format war.
Almost everyone wins with a single format. Of course, Toshiba is the biggest loser since it manufactures HD DVD, but it was either them or Sony.
Here are a few things worth noting:
- Matt correctly points out that the Playstation 3 has served as the white rabbit for the Blu-ray camp, something that this writer believed Sony had the wrong focus on. Sure, Sony appears to have won the high-def DVD war, but its victory seems to be at the PS3’s expense (but that’s another issue). The Playstation 3 has been a huge boost to the number of Blu-ray player households, and the HD-DVD didn’t get the boost it wanted from the Xbox 360, which only supported HD DVD via an additional add-on (i.e. no native playback capability).
- Blu-ray was surprisingly aggressive in its pricing promotions during the holiday season (e.g. 2-for-1 deals). All HD DVD could muster was free movies via mail-in rebate if you bought a new player. One of the reasons to buy HD DVDs were that they were supposedly cheaper to buy than Blu-ray discs.
- Blu-ray was also more aggressive in releasing more high-profile movies (i.e. fanboy flicks) than HD DVD was (Transformers aside). Video game console makers can tell you that blockbuster titles sell hardware.
- HD DVD hardware was cheaper than Blu-ray hardware, which made it less appealing for retailers to stock.
The funny thing is that both formats still haven’t been able to deliver the features promised that would make either more attractive than regular DVD. Now that consumers can confidently buy Blu-ray players without the fear of investing in a dead format (sorry, HD DVD owners), they can now enjoy the headaches that early Blu-ray adopters experienced.