It has been three months since I last explained why HD DVD will ultimately win this current format war. HD DVD is off to a decent start except for that early firmware update. Blu-ray is off and running, but seems to be stumbling all over with disappointment. Three months later, I still strongly believe that HD DVD will be the winner of this format war.
Click on to re-visit my original three points only three months later.
PriceHD DVD players can be found for $500 in retail locations and a quick Froogle search can pull 'em up for close to $400. Blu-ray on the other hand is close to $1000 in stores with Froogle checking in close to $760. Toshiba probably is losing money on their player like we reported before, while Blu-ray players are sold with nice margins for everyone involved. What does this mean to the format war?
Toshiba is selling their players with the hope that people buy their HD DVD movies. They're banking on the long term here...not the short term. Toshiba will make a lot more money on the HD DVD titles when the format ultimately wins. Sony will too if Blu-ray wins but their business model is a bit different. They are trying to make money on the hardware along with the titles. But they kind of have to. Try explaining to Samsung, Pioneer, Panasonic, Phillips and LG why they should sell players below cost. How would that benefit them? It wouldn't but that doesn't matter if the only manufacturer of hardware is also the chief investor like Toshiba is to HD DVD. Eventually, when the price of the components drop for HD DVD, it will be somewhat profitable for other manufacturers to obtain the HD DVD license and build their own player.
Plus, what does that extra 500 bones get you with Blu-ray? Most peoples perception of the format isn't picture quality like it once was.
PerceptionThree months ago I wrote that HD DVD is simply easier to sell than Blu-ray based on the fact that people know what high definition is and what a DVD is, so a high-def DVD isn't that far fetched for them. That fact is so much more evident now that Blu-ray is here and a person can see the difference between the two formats. Or, should I say lack of difference between them. Can anyone produce a review that states once and forever that the picture quality of Blu-ray is worth double that of HD DVD? Anyone...I sure can't find one and if tech geeks like us can't tell the difference how do you expect your parents, or next door neighbor too?
Or how about your local Best Buy or Circuit City salesman? Do you think they can tell the difference? Some will tell you that they can, but challenge them. Ask them what the difference is. The educated ones will tell you that this Samsung player is processing the image at 1080i, than scaling it at the last minute to 1080p. Or they might tell you that these current discs are only single layered discs and therefore are not the full quality of Blu-ray. Well, you know what, HD DVD is here - now.
Blu-ray has launched for Samsung. Pioneer will hopefully release their unit soon with Panasonic right behind them. But these units have an even higher price tag than the Samsung does. (point one again) Sony will produce their player with any luck on October 25th, but by that time, HD DVD would have been out for over six months. This means that Toshiba's second-gen player should be right around the corner. (read: 1080p output and cheaper price) Who said that a head start isn't nice to have?
Head StartToshiba launched HD DVD on April 18th. Samsung launched Blu-ray on June 25h. That is a full two month head start. Kind of like how the XBOX 360 has a year head start on Sony's other cash cow: the PS3. Those two months though are bigger than they seem. Keep in mind that Sony is the head developer of the Blu-ray technology and as of today, they are still two and a half months away from launching their player. This doesn't mean that Samsung would not be able to produce a second-gen player before Sony would, but it seems unlikely that they would. Toshiba on the other hand should have a second generation player ready for launch shortly after CES '07; maybe even before this years holiday season.
People don't like first generation players. They like looking at them and dreaming 'bout them but would rather wait till the second gen to buy. So the real race based on that known principle would relate the winner of this format war to who can produce a second player first. Tell me that head start doesn't matter again.
ConclusionRight now, people are throwing up their arms, yelling indirectly at me via their computer screens. Double layer Blu-ray titles this and studio support that. Sure, Blu-ray isn't fully here yet 'cause the current discs are only recorded on single layered discs. Hopefully the dual-layered discs will look better. There is that pesky thing about studio support too. Don't you think that these greedy movie studios would gladly jump ship if they could sell more movies someplace else? Just because they are supporting one format now, doesn't mean they have the format tattooed on their arm. (or fingers, thug style)
People want high-def movies, but what they don't want is to invest their hard earned cash into the wrong technology. In my opinion, HD DVD is the best bet.