The DVD format war continues, with neither side determined to give up. So who seems to be winning now? Well, this article seems to claim that Blu-ray is winning, and will soon displace HD-DVD, as were a number of other articles I read in the last few days on the internet. This particular quote stuck out at me:"Within three years it will just be Blu-ray." So says Frank Simonis, the Blu-ray Disc Association's European chairman, at the CeBIT trade show. I find this kind of amusing. Well, I'm not totally saying that Blu-ray is unable to outsell HD-DVD and win the format war, but I'm saying that the recent data that looks promising for Blu-ray may not seem as good as it looks.
First of all, I'm concerned about the accuracy of the data. This is a mere 2 months of collection; how are we supposed to base our analysis on that? Another problem is that the data excluded Wal-Mart, the largest DVD retailer. With this shaky data, it's almost silly to try to predict what will happen in a few months.
Secondly, and this isn't something most of us like to talk about, but Blu-ray doesn't allow adult content (well, it does, but Sony's copying centers don't, and that's the only place to go for mass-copying). Sadly, this is what gives a ton of weight to a format war, and as long as Sony excludes this type of content on their format, they are going to have a much steeper hill that they must go up to win the war.
Thirdly, although Blu-ray is standard in the Playstation 3, the HD-DVD is standard in the Xbox 360. I don't have any statistics in front of me, but I'd say that the Xbox 360 has a lot more clout than the Playstation 3 does for determining the winner in this format war.
Fourthly, the Blu-ray format is kind of unideal for movies. No, it can hold them just as well as HD-DVD discs, but what I am saying is that the capability of Blu-ray's far exceeds the amount of room needed for a high-definition movie. Since it doesn't look like movies are going to get much longer than a few hours, people are unlikely to care about the amount of free space left over on the Blu-ray disc they just bought. True, it's still very important for people on the computer side of things, but it seems like the main usage of this type of disc will be for movies, just as DVDs were invented and successful for movies first, then became popular with the computer industry.
My final point is that HD-DVDs are much, much cheaper than Blu-rays. This makes a whole ton of difference. How much do consumers care about the features of this new player when they see the price? Given that the movies will be cheaper, the player will be cheaper, and that they don't give a rip about how much space is left over on the disc, I'd say there's a pretty high chance that the consumer is going to dive for the HD-DVD.
So of course HD-DVD isn't going to win this war hands-down either, and if I were the head of the HD-DVD camp, I'd likely be a little worried by the current statistics. But I certainly don't believe that Sony is capable of winning this war in 3 years, either.