For those who have been following the high definition (HD) format war between Sony’s Blu-Ray and Toshiba’s HD DVD, it sure has been an interesting ride. Up until December of 2007, the swing could have gone either way. Just a few short weeks into 2008, Blu-Ray is now the dominant player in the game. It’s not innovation or a better product that puts Blu-Ray in front, but rather, a partner decision has given it this edge.
Since the format war has been on-going with no clear winner, it looks like the studios are ready to help consumers make a decision. On January 4, 2008, Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros. and Kevin Tsujihara, President, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. announced that they will release their high definition DVD titles exclusively in the Blu-Ray disc format beginning later this year.
This was a devastating move to Toshiba who up until now was fighting the good fight to get their proprietary HD format (HD DVD) out to the masses. With the recent holiday discounts, Toshiba had a record quarter in HD DVD player sales. In fact, at CES 2008 (just a few days ago), Toshiba showed a pie chart of their HD market share. As of Dec 2007, Toshiba had captured 49.3% of the total dedicated HD player market followed by Sony & Samsung at 29.4% and 13.7% respectively.
Jodi Sally of Toshiba’s digital A/V department speaks at the CES 2008 press conference telling the crowd that Toshiba has now put 1 million units of their HD player into consumer hands. This sound very impressive since Toshiba is not backed by any other major manufacturer in producing HD DVD players. Unfortunately, the above chart does not tell the whole story as it only includes dedicated HD players. At last count, Sony has sold about 3 million of their gaming console, the PS3, and these also play Blu-Ray HD discs.
Here is the press conference at CES 2008 where Jodi Sally speaks about the future of HD DVD in the light of Warner Bros. move to Blu-ray.
Audio & video forums like AV Science Forum and Digital Home are buzzing with the latest development in the HD format war. Some are even speculating that the war is over and Sony’s Blu-Ray is the clear winner.
Is it truly over for Toshiba’s HD DVD format? Can the remaining studios (Paramount & Universal) who currently put out their movies exclusively in HD DVD follow Warner Bros. and make the switch to Blu-Ray after their contract with Toshiba is up? Can Toshiba make a come back with even lower HD DVD player unit prices? How will Microsoft (who produces an HD VDD add-on for their gaming console, the XBox360) react to this latest news? Only time will tell but as of this moment, it looks like Blu-Ray is the new VHS.