The race has started and Toshiba's HD DVD is a head start and I believe that this format will prevail. I am basing this off of three major advantages that I can see from the perspective of a HDTV salesmen. My profession allows me to have a unique view of the overall situation; many of our readers are also in sales so I am sure that they can relate to these points.
Take some time and read over this. I am sure that some of these points you have not thought about.
1. PriceWho is going to buy a HD DVD player right of the bat? Is it going to be current HDTV owners that are educated? No, most of you said you were waiting. Then it is going to be "Mom and Pop" or "Gram and Gramps" when they buy their first HDTVs. Sure, some of us are going to run out and buy a HD DVD player but a lot of ordinary people are going to buy one thanks to salesmen and the process we call "attaching."
This practice is found everywhere. Car dealerships "attach" paint sealers and shoe salesmen suggesting leather cleaner. It is everywhere. Let me tell you though that it is hard enough to attach a quality sound system to HDTVs these days let alone a $1,000 Blu-Ray player; but a $500 HD DVD that is half the price is a lot easier. Don't hate me for this. It is just a product of the system. Most salesmen are tracked on almost everything they do with the goal of increasing "productivity."
Check this out: "When you buy the HDTV I can give you 10% off the player plus it comes with a HDMI cable that we sell for around a $100. (I know...expensive cable but bare with me) Plus, this player will make your normal DVDs look a bit better. A normal DVD player for a HDTV is around 100 bucks but this new one will play most of the new discs that are coming out that will look amazing on your new HDTV. Let me show you the difference." Listen to me, this is going to be said thousands of times accouse the country by many HDTV salesmen. It is an easier sale. I am sorry if this offends some of you but this is how it works.
This $500 HD DVD player does nearly the same thing that the Blu-Ray player does but for half the price. Plus, and more importantly, the average customer knows what a HD DVD player is.
2. Perception.People come into my store to buy a HDTV. I then attempt to sell them one but have to at least touch on at least five acronyms. HDTV, DLP, LCD, SXRD and resolutions. (Ok...the last is not an acronym but you get the point.) Trust me, and the rest of the HDTV sales industry can chime in, I try to reduce this "tech talk" to a bare minimum. It just confuses 90% of people and gets them frustrated. But people know what a DVD is and most know what HD is. So therefore most people can put together what a HD DVD is.
Now this may seem a bit silly to some people but then you must not work in sales but customers are stupid. That is a clear as I can put it. But a HD DVD is something that is not hard to wrap your head around and they have been hearing about it for awhile. Plus, when you tell them about it for the first time, they can understand it. Blu-Ray just adds yet another thing that salesmen has to explain and, this is the hard part, people have to understand.
3. Head startWas the XBOX better then the PS2? Oh, sure. It was a better built machine with a lot more power but the PS2 had a huge head start. Part of this was that it could play the PS1 games. By the time that the XBOX was available, the PS2 had dropped in price and people knew what it was.
The same thing is going to happen with HD DVD. Blu-Ray is better technology and yes, but HD DVD's head start is going to help Toshiba's camp a lot. People are going to know what it is and are going to be comfortable with it. It takes the average Joe a few trips to Best Buy and Circuit City to "learn" enough before they are going to buy. Some will wait for the Blu-Ray player but then the price will drive them to the one they already know what it is.
Keep in mind that these are simply my opinions that are based on my experience in this industry. I hope that I am wrong 'cause Blu-Ray is a better technology but so was Beta.