Too long since your last shot of format-war speculation? BusinessWeek uses three indicators to call Blu-ray (and Sony) the current leading contender:
1. Blu-ray has sold more than twice as many discs as HD DVD this year.
2. While HD DVD has a larger number of dedicated players in the market, 2.3 million PS3s offer an overwhelming advantage.
3. Rumors suggest that Warner Bros. will go Blu-ray only, giving that side 70% of the home-video market.
At the very same time, though, analysts from the Diffusion Group released a report calling HD DVD the eventual victor:
The study says that, among those planning to hop to high-def discs in the next six months, "43% prefer HD DVD, 27% prefer Blu-ray, and 30% are undecided." Here's the funny part:
The most immediate wave, which is expected to be exhausted by early 2008, is comprised of the remaining early adopters who...show a preference for Blu-ray. The second (and more sizable) wave will consist of early mass-market consumers who, while less enthusiastic about technology per se and very price sensitive, are more likely to favor HD DVD.
This corroborates what I said last week: when the masses start buying a high-def movie player for their high-def TVs, they are going to buy the cheap Chinese player, not the fancy $300 player from the recognizable brand. Also, Diffusion's research echoes an old argument: consumers who see HD DVD think "logical high-def extension of DVD format"; they see Blu-ray and think "WTF?" (Frankly, we're currently more partial to dual-disc players from Samsung and LG.)
That isn't to say that the BusinessWeek analysis wasn't good. I was taken aback by the Warner rumor, since Warner's HD DVDs are so much better than its identical Blu-ray releases, but if Warner does side with Sony, there will be some big trouble in the little HD DVD camp. [BusinessWeek and Diffusion Group]