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May 2008

The Format War Is Over

Blu-ray won. Sony ultimately paid off enough of the other studios to tip the contest in their favor. Toshiba has withdrawn HD-DVD. But Sony's victory may have come too late.

The expectation was that when the format war ends, that sales of Blu-ray players would immediately exceed the sales of HDTV sets. That didn't happen. Sales of Blu-ray players have stayed pretty flat.

Blu-ray can deliver much higher quality than DVD, but the difference is not significant in most homes, so Blu-Ray is going to have a much harder time getting mass acceptance. Sony may be forced into price reductions. They don't have much time because the window is closing. To survive, Blu-ray must become dominant before it is made obsolete by network delivery.

My recommendation is still to stick with DVD at least until Sony announces that they are going to remove the DRM components from Blu-ray. DRM makes the gear and discs more expensive and harder to use, so clearly it is something you don't want.