Who will win the Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD format war?

With the battle lines now drawn (see part 1) for the next generation of DVD players, which format—Blu-ray or HD-DVD—is likely to emerge victorious, and which one will become the “Betamax” of the 21st Century?

Blu-ray appears to have the advantage at the moment.

Blu-ray—its name deriving from the blue laser technology rather than the red laser used for conventional DVD—is backed by five of the six biggest Hollywood studios . Paramount, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney Company, and Warner Brothers account for an estimated 80% percent of the market. Add to that ESPN, Miramax, MGM (which merged with Sony), Lions Gate Entertainment and Touchstone, and record companies like Sony BMG and Universal Music Group, and you have a very potent line-up for Blu-ray.

Not only is Blu-ray backed by many of the major studios, but it also holds the edge due to its superior capacity: 25GB per layer, vs. 15GB for HD-DVD. And the fact that Sony’s PlayStation 3 will play Blu-ray movie discs is an added bonus.

Hardware heavyweights like Apple, Dell, HP, Pioneer, and Panasonic are also behind the Blu-ray format.
Microsoft, no slouch, is backing HD-DVD, and will use the technology in its Xbox gaming product. Toshiba HD-DVD players will be available in March 2006, and will be much less expensive than Blu-ray. NEC, Sanyo, and Intel are also in the HD-DVD camp.

Another major advantage of HD-DVD is that it will not cost much money to adapt manufacturing methods from current DVD procedures, as will be necessary for Blu-ray manufacturing. This should keep the cost of HD-DVD down when compared to Blu-ray. HD-DVD blank discs will be much less expensive as well.

Although many of the studios are aligned with Blu-ray, they will inevitably release whatever the market demands, so the aligning of the major studios behind Blu-ray, at this time, may not be as significant as it would appear.
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