When the “HD-DVD” camp gave up the format, we expressed our doubts whether the surviving Blu-ray standard would win the war. Yes, the battle was won, but the war is far from over. This past week we noticed two small news items to support our theory: Microsoft announced it would not make Blu-ray players for its Xbox 360 products and, even more importantly, Toshiba brought a number of new laptops to the market with – wait for it – upscaling capability for DVD disks using their Toshiba Quad Core HD processor.
It may be a bit too early to declare Blu-ray dead, but the writing is clearly on the wall. Consumers are very reluctant to buy Blu-ray players, because they are still quite expensive, the difference in quality with DVDs is not that great and the disks are not in plentyful supply and way too expensive. Yes, I know all PlayStation 3 players are capable of playing back Blu-ray, but so far the owners of these sets have not yet started to buy Blu-ray disks in large quantities.
The only way out is for content owners to massively release Blu-ray titles. If we draw a parallel with HD receivers and broadcasts we see a similar pattern. Across Europe people are buying flat screens, both HDready and Full HD, in record numbers. But when there are not enough HD available, they fail to subscribe to HD services. Look at Germany, France, The Netherlands – people have the sets in their homes, but no matching receivers and subscriptions. Only in the UK, with Sky offering a substantial number of channels, is HD taking off.