Blu-ray Wins, Toshiba Giving Up on HD DVD

Blu-ray Wins, Toshiba Giving Up on HD DVD

Sounds like the inevitable is about to come to pass: HD DVD is dead, long live Blu-ray.

The battle for supremacy in the high-definition DVD format war has clearly turned Blu-ray's way. Now it seems that Toshiba, the backer of HD DVD, has come to the same conclusion and is preparing to concede defeat.

This comes as retail giant Wal-Mart Stores today said its 4,000 Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores and their Web sites are saying good-bye to HD DVD. By June, the only high-def format Wal-Mart will sell will be Blu-ray.

Citing an unnamed source close to the HD DVD camp, a story by The Hollywood Reporter says Toshiba could make its concessionary announcement within a matter of weeks.

That means victory for Sony-backed Blu-ray and the end to a format fight that's been blamed for delaying consumer purchases of high-def DVD players and movies.

Now, the coast is clear for Blu-ray, which pulled out in front in the first weeks of 2008 by winning over several major supporters. Most importantly, Warner Bros. Entertainment committed exclusively to Blu-ray just ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show, causing HD DVD supporters to cancel a press event scheduled for the conference. Warner Bros. joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and Walt Disney in the Blu-ray camp. Two major studios, Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios, have sided with HD DVD.

Toshiba fought back with steep price cuts on its HD DVD players, but industry observers said the pricing action wouldn't be enough to overpower Blu-ray's momentum. Plus, Toshiba was already fighting losses in its HD DVD player business.

Then came the aftershock: Taking their cues from Warner Bros., both Netflix and Best Buy came out this week in support of Blu-ray. Netflix, the online DVD rental service, said it would begin stocking new high-def movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format, while Best Buy the same day said it had picked Blu-ray as its preferred format.

Some critics argue that HD DVD is technologically the better format. But in this world of Microsoft's Blue Screen of Death, we all know that products don't always win out simply by being the best.