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More troubles for HD DVD

AppleInsider reports that the ailing HD DVD format has suffered two more blows.

Best Buy has stated it will promote Blu-ray over HD DVD in its stores. Blu-ray discs and players will have more prominent placing and staff will be instructed to recommend Blu-ray over HD DVD.

Netflix stated that, to ease consumer confusion, it will not be adding new HD DVD formats to its catalog and will gradually phase out the existing ones.

When you consider how much of a share Netflix has over the home rental market and how much Best Buy has over the retail DVD market, this is a massive blow for HD DVD. It is also a psychological blow because consumers can sense that the ship is sinking and no price cuts from Toshiba will change this. Even if they gave away HD DVD players for free, I don't think they could make a comeback.

Apple, despite being on the Blu-ray board, has remained incredibly quiet over the whole issue. I think the whole issue lies with burning Blu-ray discs. From what I have read, standard DVD and Blu-ray are so different that DVD Studio Pro will require a rewrite in order to support Blu-ray. I am guessing the same applies to iDVD and the Finder's built-in disc burning capabilities.

I would imagine this is the primary reason why Apple does not offer a Blu-ray drive option in their lineup. Maybe they were waiting for a clear winner to emerge before putting resources into updating their software packages. It would be very expensive to write code for a losing format. Price may also be a factor, considering the ~$1000 price tag of Sony's burners and the $10-25 price per disc.

Everyone predicts a Blu-ray burner from Apple every year and it never arrives but this year is different because we now have a clear winner. Everyone is so glad that a winner is emerging that they are putting all of their resources behind it to spur it on, leaving no doubt in my mind that HD DVD will eventually die. When that occurs is up to Toshiba. If I was managing Toshiba, I'd stop production, sell off the remaining inventory and count my losses. Persevering in the face of obvious defeat will only damage them in the long run.

I think we could see Blu-ray drives in Mac Pros by the end of the year (probably as a BTO option).
Posted by Jon Chappell on Feb 12 2008 to Analysis, Apple, DVD