For anyone old enough to remember the VHS/Betamax wars, the new battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD might seem like history repeating itself. While VHS did eventually prevail, it certainly put a lot of consumers off. It also probably opened the door for wide adoption of the DVD as a single unified standard after both the VCD and laserdisc failed to gain a large enough foothold.
Both of the new formats have support from different coalitions of movie studios, which means that if you want to watch high definition movies you could very well end up needing to buy two devices or a more expensive combo-device.
“Until recently, many consumers were able to defer the choice because players have been so expensive. But prices have been slashed by about half — Sony Corp.'s Blu-ray player now sells for $499 and Toshiba Corp.'s cheapest HD DVD player sells for $299, with both likely to include as many as five free movies as an incentive. (Players that read both formats remain expensive.) Both sides are also releasing blockbuster titles such as the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie aimed squarely at the demographic most likely to upgrade to high-def.
The stakes couldn't be higher for Hollywood, which has seen sales of traditional DVDs, once a reliable profit engine, slow to a trickle. Direct digital delivery online, while promising, is still years away from profitability because current Internet capacity simply can't handle the enormous high-definition files.”
The comment about the internet capacity seems a bit suspect, especially given the amount of illicit HD content available. The real trick is to get people to pay to use the media, and it doesn’t seem that a format war is going to be particularly productive in achieving that goal.