In November Techworld suggested Blu-ray was wining the pst-DVD optical format war. Now we hear hammering as another nail gets driven into HD-DVD's coffin.
Warner Brothers has just picked Blu-ray for future high-def film distribution - over HD-DVD. The studio states: "In response to consumer demand, Warner Bros. Entertainment will release its high-definition DVD titles exclusively in the Blu-ray disc format beginning later this year."
Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros. wants to end what he sees as a kind of market paralysis: "The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger. We believe that exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers, and most importantly, consumers."
Warner Home Video will continue to release all new titles in HD DVD until the end of May 2008. Then it stops.
Kevin Tsujihara, President, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, said: "A two-format landscape has led to consumer confusion and indifference toward high definition, which has kept the technology from reaching mass adoption and becoming the important revenue stream that it can be for the industry."
"Consumers have clearly chosen Blu-ray, and we believe that recognizing this preference is the right step in making this great home entertainment experience accessible to the widest possible audience. Warner Bros. has worked very closely with the Toshiba Corporation in promoting high definition media and we have enormous respect for their efforts. We look forward to working with them on other projects in the future."
Poor Tosh. Its CES splash at Las Vegas, including a special little conference, had to be cancelled as a result. Lots of HD-DVD-sponsored bags at CES now look somewhat forlorn. Toshiba's statement showed signs of puzzlement: " Toshiba is quite surprised by Warner Bros.' decision to abandon HD DVD in favor of Blu-ray, despite the fact that there are various contracts in place between our companies concerning the support of HD DVD. ... We were particularly disappointed that this decision was made in spite of the significant momentum HD DVD has gained in the US market as well as other regions in 2007. HD DVD players and PCs have outsold Blu-ray in the US market in 2007."
"We will assess the potential impact of this announcement with the other HD DVD partner companies and valuate potential next steps. We remain firm in our belief that HD DVD is the format best suited to the wants and needs of the consumer."
Unfortunately not enough people, it seem, share Toshiba's belief. Blu-ray has been helped by Sony's use of it in PlayStation 3s. There are rumours that Apple Macs will get Blu-ray support. It begins to look as if Sony has got its own back for the Betamax video tape defeat defeat.
Business users thinking about optical archiving systems can now think about Blu-ray-based ones with more confidence.