Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gear: The Last Domino Falls

And just like that, it's all over.

On Tuesday, almost immediately after Toshiba announced they would be quitting the HD-DVD business, Universal announced it was switching to Blu-ray. This morning, Paramount formally announced what everyone knew was coming: they would also be switching back to Blu-ray production (they were initially format neutral, releasing movies on both formats). With almost no hardware support and zero major studio support, HD-DVD is now dead. Only LG has committed to continue HD-DVD hardware production. Even then, their support will be in the form of their dual-format player, with the idea being that they can transition HD-DVD supporters over to Blu-ray with a player that will play their existing HD-DVD collection.

I initially thought that both formats had lined up enough support that format duality was inevitable. Of course, I didn't account for the possibility that Warner would switch to Blu-ray exclusivity, a move that exposed how tenuous the balance between the formats was. I'm pretty shocked at how quickly HD-DVD fell; it took just 48 days from Warner's announcement for HD-DVD to completely die.

Of course, Blu-ray as the standard is not necessarily a win for consumers. "Standard" can also be likened to monopoly, where there isn't the downward pressure on prices from marketplace competition. The player side will continue to see competition and price drops, though without HD-DVD in the picture, it will likely be at a significantly slower pace than we've seen over the last year. On the other hand, each movie is its own little monopoly and my guess is that we're not likely to see the cost of Blu-ray movies drop noticeably for quite a while. It took several years for DVDs to drop and we're likely to see the same thing here.


Matt said...

This doesn't fall here, but did you make it to Jungle Jim's on sunday?

CorrND said...

Oh yeah, I did. My parents are visiting right now, so that's why posting has been a little light. I meant to get that up last week but it'll probably be up early next week instead.