Monday, March 10, 2008

HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray – Sony triumph over rematch

Many say history, like life, goes in circles. Overstated as it may sound in the hi-tech arena this is undisputedly valid. Back in the 70’s western world witnessed the videotape format war, a civil Japanese “cold war” era of agonizing competition over dominance in the videocassette recorder (VCR) market. On the red corner, Sony’s new home entertainment success Betamax, challenged by its rival on the blue corner, the very much promising, JVC’s representative, VHS. A new chapter of technological competition in the marketing history.

3 decades later Sony is in the ring again with the 25GB capacity Blu-ray disks, against the lighter 15GB capacity HD DVD discs backed up by Toshiba. Sony was counting to win the odds mainly upon capacity while cost – they are coming short in value for money – has been utterly forsaken. Strangely though, despite other advantages for each of the two new formats, the companies backing them up have been unable to decide upon a single standard.

But where manufacturers and consumers failed to compromise on either technologies, retailers decided to take action… and there is one retailer, with the power to call the winner. Wal-Mart, the U.S. $350 billion retailer, announced more than a year ago the shelving only of HD DVD type recorders. Sony received a major blow under the belt dreading history, like life, does go in circles. Justification in Wal-mart’s strategy lied upon acknoledgment of the movie market and the downloading reality. Since Wal-Mart has launched its own movie download service, selling recording equipment served simply as a mean to generate in store traffic, making more sence to promote the cheap HD DVD .

Nevertheless, consumers favoured performance over cheap cost. Sony empowered their position in the market with aggressive marketing supported by big technological improvement blows and finally won the rematch. Toshiba is announcing them dropping the HD DVD technology and Wal-Mart announced on Friday they exclusive support on Blu-ray. Personally, I am thrilled quality thrived over quantity; I am just curious what’s going to be the next battle after 3 decade… hard to imagine, isn’t it?