As I guessed (once it was getting pretty obvious), Blu-ray has won the high definition optical disc format war. After Warners announced they were going exclusively Blu-ray, then Netflix, Best Buy, Blockbuster and Walmart said they were too, and Toshiba finally acquiesced and took HD DVD out in the back yard and shot it. Poor Old Yeller, but he had to be put down.
OK, so what will this mean? Lets run through repercussions for us as consumers, and more interestingly, as content creators.
-HD DVD is dead. Long may it fester *. But in the meantime, there are still a ton of players out there that will be firesaled, and there are a lot of discs out there. If you are like me and already own an HD DVD player, it is worth looking around for some ultra cheap movies to pick up on HD DVD rather than waiting for them and/or paying more to be re-released on Blu-ray. The downside? Once your existing HD DVD player keels over, those movies aren't playable anywhere else, nor can you play them anywhere else other than the existing HD DVD players. Even though HD DVD players will be available for a song, and they are giving away a bunch of movies with them, I still don't think it is worth picking one up, UNLESS you want somthing not available in Blu-ray now and aren't willing to wait till Christmas for the next round of Blu-ray player price drops.
* Not really a fair statement, just fun to say. I have a player and several discs, and I like the overlay menus, but I dislike the "acts like a slow computer struggling to play the content" aspect that the PS3 doesn't have with Blu-ray discs.
It'll be interesting to see, now that the format war question is out of the way, what the REAL level of consumer interest is for high definition content. The analysts and "research" have been indicating that of those interested in high def content, one of the major reasons for folks not purchasing was fear of picking the losing format. OK, that barrier is out of the way. Will consumers rush to buy in the coming months? Or will it take more titles being available on Blu-ray? Or more price drops, most likely come Christmas? The biggest fear, I'd imagine, is that the truth of the matter is that the biggest competitor to Blu-ray isn't HD DVD, isn't pay-per-view high def movies, isn't even AppleTV - it is plain old upconverting DVD players, ubiquitously available for under $100. For most folks, upconverted regular DVDs on their HDTV looks pretty darned good, and the thought of spending $250-$600 on a player isn't appealing.