Tuesday, February 19, 2008

HD DVD: The Fat Lady has Sung

As reported here and then officially here on our sister Website, the fat lady has finally sung, so to speak, and we've reached an end to the high-definition DVD format war. Simply put, Toshiba will stop production of all HD DVD products next month.

What does this mean for those consumers who have already purchased an HD DVD player or recorder? Perhaps the tiny, $130 player for the Xbox 360 gaming console? Or even a notebook PC with an integrated HD DVD drive? You'll still be able to continue playing discs you already own and any ypu purchase between now and the day they're removed from store shelves. And Toshiba says it will continue to honour product support and service, which is reassuring for those who want to get some life out of their investment.

Although you might think purchasers are slamming doors in anger at buying what will soon be an obselete technology, that doesn't appear to be the case. Most people who purchased HD DVD were fully aware that the technology might not "win". And in fact, I know some who are just waiting for discs to start "blowing out" at retail so they can stock up on a collection at an affordable price. Of course this collection will likely be collecting dust 20 years from now, but hey, you can take a piece of history with you.

Of course, as I've mentioned time and time again, just because a clear "winner" has been named, it doesn't mean that consumers will be running out in flocks to grab a Blu-ray player. Sure, there are smart-minded, tech-savvy individuals that have been waiting for the war to be over before dropping a half a grand on a player and some movies. But there are still plenty of others that stare blankly at the Blu-ray section in a store scratching their head trying to figure out what this Blu stuff is all about. One retailer once told me that customers were buying HD DVDs and trying to play them back in a Blu-ray player thinking they were "all the same" (and vice versa); while another noted that many customers thought they could just plop a Blu-ray or HD DVD disc into a "regular" DVD player and it would instantly display better quality images. So don't be fooled: we still have a long way to go.

Research company DisplaySearch echoes this sentiment.

"...Even if all HD DVD products were removed from retail shelves today, the average consumer still will not be buying Blu-ray hardware and software in mass quantities for some time," says the company.

With that said, Toshiba will easily pick itself up and move on. As for those in the Blu-ray camp, congratulations on the victory. It's likely that we'll see plenty more Blu-ray and Blu-ray-compatible products coming down the pike in 2008.


Anonymous said...

When is Toshiba going to learn their lesson..While I was employed with Toshiba in the mid 90's they pulled the same stunt..bringing out a competing DVD format..they lost that battle too..You can't continue to confuse consumers and expect to bring new technologies to the market at the same time..Consumers need to have confidence in the technologies that they are shelling out big bucks for...creating confusion in their minds is a recipe for disaster...

Anonymous said...

unfortunately, many big box stores are mis-informing consumers about upconverting dvd players. Consumers are not only trying to play HDDVD in Bluray but think they have a High def format when they buy the $69 no name upconverting dvd. The HD format war is not the only problem, the biggest problem is sales associates who do not know what they are talking about.