Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Format Wars c. 2007

I confess to finding it really hard to understand the thought processes that allowed us to reach the current state of affairs in high-def DVD. Yes, I know a lot of the history and all that but the current impasse is just so destructive to everyone involved. I don't really buy the thought that the format will be made irrelevant by movie downloads (too complicated, too relatively pricey). However, I have no doubts that very little is happening on the high-def front because consumers don't want to invest in a format that could end up the loser. I suspect, at the end of the day, it will take dual-format readers/writers to make the issue largely irrelevant as with DVD+ and DVD-.
But forget the anecdotal take on the situation. Here's real data from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings from the Wall Street Journal:
WSJ: How important is renting HD-DVD and Blu-ray movies, the two new high-definition disc formats, for Netflix?
Hastings: Tragically small. We have all the titles on HD-DVD and Blu-ray. They're running neck-and-neck, but the total volume is less than 1% of our volume. Consumers want high-def, but the perception of a format war is freezing consumers out. Until that perception stops, very few consumers will try the new high-def discs.
via Hacking NetFlix.
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