Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Blu-Ray vs HD DVD: The wrong format is winning.

It's a tough time to be a consumer and an even tougher time to be a movie fan. With all the recent announcements from both sides of the format war the dust is beginning to settle and the battlefield is looking awfully grim.

I find myself dumbfounded by Sony's ability to convince consumers that their Blu-Ray format is truly better than HD DVD. This feeling is further exacerbated with every bit of new information that is released about the format. For example, Blu-Ray still faces manufacturing problems while HD DVD does not. The most challenging and simply maddening new revelation of the Blu-Ray format however is Sony's continued indecision with regard to the format specification. There are presently three specifications to the format: BD Profile 1.0, BD Profile 1.1, and BD Profile 2.0 (BD Live). The irony with this is that each of these profiles are all an effort to bring Blu-Ray to the same level of standard as HD DVD. What makes the problem worse is that due to this early adopters will be left completely in the cold. When the Blu-Ray camp was asked if they were worried about a backlash from consumers they simply replied
"They knew what they were getting into."
Meanwhile HD DVD owners are assured compatibility with any and all future releases because the HD DVD specification was feature complete when the first players were brought to market.

So then why are businesses like Best Buy and Netflix pushing Blu-Ray?

Well the answer is simple. Blu-Ray is great for business. If early Blu-Ray discs are no longer playable then consumers are forced to re-purchase movies. When new discs that come out are not playable on BD Profile 1.0 players consumers are once again forced to buy the newer players. Lastly, why sell HD DVD players at $150 when you can sell a Blu-Ray player for $450 and have a much larger profit margin.

HD DVD on the other hand has a feature complete specification, cheap players, media that allows consumers to play the same movie in both HD DVD and regular DVD players, and even the ability to use standard DVD media for HD DVD movies. HD DVD may be great for consumers but Blu-Ray is great for business.

However, all is not lost! There is still hope for consumers. Universal, Dreamworks and Paramount have maintained their position to support HD DVD despite rumors saying otherwise. Many reviewers and enthusiasts are voicing themselves as still supporting HD DVD, including Electronic House. And finally, HD DVD disc sales still have a chance to improve as many new owners of HD DVD players bought over the past holiday season will be looking to make their collections.

So. Sony, if you're reading this, we consumers will not tolerate your tyranny.