Originally Posted by rlsmith
There is a major factor that is not getting enough discussion: the perceived need to end the format war.
The studios and especially the retailers are very upset about this format war. It has complicated their lives and greatly reduced their sales.
This December, retailers saw a 101% increase in HDTV's being sold. Reports this January are that the usual "Super Bowl" crowds of buyers of big TV's are much larger than usual.
We are further facing the fact that two years from now, NTSC broadcasts will be going away. Everyone thinks that a huge number of new HDTV's will be sold in this time frame. This is a great opportunity to sell hd players.
So, we have the odd situation that a lot of new hd sets, but few new hd players selling with them.
== Retailers are hopping mad about this. They want the format war to be over.
== The studios, disappointed in their overall hd sales, realize that the format war must end.
I think that retailers and the studios are ready to take the matter into their own hands and virtually declare a winner.
This news about Blu-ray sales does not come in a vacuum. We saw at CES that the Blu-ray studios all held firm and in fact virtually declared victory. None of the Blu-ray studios went neutral, although many were predicting that they would. It was not that they were so happy with existing sales Blu-ray, or even the "just OK" PS3 launch. It is that they feel a need to hitch their wagon to some star or another and get on with it.
When I visit retailers, I am seeing a real Blu-ray bias in presentation and pricing. Circuit City doesn't seem to even have HD DVD disks or players. Best Buy features Blu-ray and side-steps HD DVD. Given the larger number of Blu-ray players and more "favorable" margins, who can blame them?
I can well imagine that retailers will now be telling their customers that the "format war is all but over, Blu-ray is winning the sales war, has more titles, etc.". This is a pitch that is much more likely to make a sale than a complete explanation of all of the details of the format war as we know them.
HD DVD failed last year to attract new CE or studio support. For a few months, HD DVD had momentum, and they didn't go anywhere with it. It may now be too late.
The one important development for HD DVD announced at CES was Microsoft's efforts to get Chinese manufacturers into the mix with cheap players. This is their best strategy at this point: sell cheap players, show that software sales increase, get studios to change their minds. However, it runs a risk with many of the nation's retailers, who will consider the introduction of cheap players to be an affront to their normal sales strategies.
Retailers can spin this by calling Blu-ray the quality product supported by the major manufacturers, with HD DVD being the "bargain basement also-ran" that isn't as good. With titles like Spiderman, Pirates, Cars, etc., to back them up, they can make this case.
All the more reason for them to push Blu-ray now and hope to put an end to this mess.
[I should add that, while I believe Blu-ray to be the better format, there isn't really much difference and I don't much care who wins the format war personally. But it is time to make something happen. As a consumer, I know that I am never going to see the variety of titles that I want until this format war is resolved. ]