The Blu-Ray/HD-DVD debacle — an update

| December 29, 2007

Roughly 18 months ago, I wrote a post about the problems with the industry’s inability to agree upon a next-gen DVD format — leading to the split between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. Among other things, I said the following:

So now we come to the next generation solutions for video playback: HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. During the years that these technologies were under development, technophiles hoped and prayed that the respective consortia would merge their research and standardize upon a single format. They failed to do so, and the result, I believe, will be failure for both formats, with both limited to market niches.

Now, 18 months later, this prediction appears to be holding. There’s an excellent analysis by David Mumpower of the current state of the next-gen DVD format wars over at Box Office Prophets, and it doesn’t look good. He starts with:

Futility, thy name is the next-gen DVD “war”. Truly, the struggle for supremacy between Blu-ray and HD-DVD is a pointless skirmish that serves no purpose save for the aggrandizement of woefully out of touch corporations Sony and Toshiba/Microsoft. The two titans of the business world could have averted this current public relations disaster had they been willing to broker a compromise in 2005. While there were extensive discussions along these lines, however, neither side was willing to cede their demands in order to come to an agreement. Microsoft found the Blu-Ray technology unsatisfactory for personal computing while Sony would not budge on file structuring, believing a similar decision in the past had cost the company billions in royalties. The impact of these two behemoths behaving thusly is roughly the equivalent of two men putting buckets on their heads then repeatedly trying to head-butt one another. Unfortunately, random violence, while initially humorous, grows tiresome all too quickly.

And here’s the most telling statistic:

Consumers were even kind enough to give next-gen DVD distributors a code red this holiday season. On Black Friday, one of the biggest days of the year for consumer consumption, roughly 600,000 DVDs were sold. A combined 57,000 units of HD-DVD/Blu-Ray hardware were sold. Billions have been spent on next-gen nonsense yet customers are buying outdated technology at a factor of over ten to one.

Read the whole thing.  ..bruce w..

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Category: Information Technology, Main, Media

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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