Tuesday, February 19, 2008

HD DVD, competitor to Blu-Ray, dead at 2

HD DVD obituaryHD DVD, known for ushering in the next generation of high capacity optical disc as well as the exclusive titles of Transformers and Shrek, died on Tuesday in Tokyo Japan.  It was just short of its second birthday.

The cause of death was a lack of support from the major studios and retailers.  HD DVD's health had been failing for several months.  Several movie studios announced that it would stop supporting HD DVD and defected to its hated rival Blu-Ray.  In a desperate attempt to save its life, doctors slashed prices.  But it was too little too late.  The hemorrhaging was too severe.

Born on March 31, 2006 to Toshiba and NEC, HD DVD had the first player out for the next generation format.  For the next two years, HD DVD and Blu Ray waged an intense battle for supremacy.  There were times that HD DVD looked to be pulling ahead, but the numbers just weren't adding up.  Consumer indifference slowed the progress of both formats.  Consumers did not find a compelling reason to upgrade to either as most believed their standard DVDs were good enough.   Consumers did not care, nor did they have the right equipment, to really appreciate the higer quality picture or the interactive menus.  Coupled with high prices for disk and equipment, and both formats struggled.

However, retailers and studios seemed weary of a long protracted fight so they started picking sides. Perhaps aided by the PS3 and more movie studio support, Blu Ray players were outselling HD DVD players despite their higher cost.  Still, with adoption so much slower than the original DVD format, it was hard to pick a winner quickly.  But one by one, support mounted for Blu Ray.  Things looked really bad as Netflix and Best Buy announced they would be supporting Blu Ray.  The final straw came when Wal-Mart, the retail Goliath, threw its weight behind Blu-Ray dealing the death blow to HD DVD.

HD DVD is survived by Microsoft, Universal and Paramount (The latter two quickly announced they would be adopted by the Blu Ray family).

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