The development of technology is, by all means, a positive trend, but it is constantly bringing new apples of discord. It was not long ago when people tried to get accustomed to tiny discs for DVD instead of VHS format. The new millennium has brought new choice: HD-DVD VS. Blu-Ray. The two formats do not differ greatly, though each of them has a feature desired by users.
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Blu-Ray has more capacity whereas HD-DVD is more attractive because of the lower price. Interestingly, the battle was not confined to pure technology. Film studios played a very important role in the rivalry which resulted in the victory of Blu-Ray format.
The history of the famous battle started in 2004 when two versions of “next generation high-definition DVD players and discs” were introduced (Hill and Jones 2009, p.240). The Blu-Ray format was created by “a consortium” of 9 companies, electronic producers.
The major companies of this camp were Samsung, Sony, Pioneer (Null and Lobur 2006, p.358). This format’s rival, HD-DVD, was developed by two famous companies, Toshiba and NEC.
From technological perspective the two formats do not differ drastically. Both formats provide significant improvements as for sound and picture quality, if compared to conventional format. Thus, Blu-Ray has 25 GB data capacity, whereas HD-DVD has 15GB data capacity (Vogel 2010, p.163). However, Blu-Ray format offers significantly better resolution than HD-DVD does and this can be regarded as a very huge plus.
Admittedly, many customers long for better quality of picture and sound. Nevertheless, the major advantage of HD-DVD is that it is significantly cheaper. Thus, HD-DVD discs and players are cheaper than their Blu-Ray counterparts. Basically, the forces of the two camps were quite equal: there were advantages and downsides in both rivals. Thus, both parties found the way to outweigh the rival’s forces.
Both companies’ worked out “a key strategy” which presupposed the interference of film studios, both companies tried to get studios “to commit to issuing discs based on their format” (Hill and Jones 2009, p.240). Many people understood that the format “with the biggest range of movies on offer” will inevitably win “leaving the losing format to slowly die out as it becomes uneconomic” (Grimming 2007).
This decision could leave HD-DVD behind since Sony owned two companies (MGM and Columbia Pictures) and it also made an arrangement with such companies as Fox Studios and Disney. As far as Toshiba is concerned they also obtained the support of Paramount, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers.
However, in 2005 Paramount and Warner Brothers announced about their support of Blu-Ray format citing “Blu-Ray’s momentum among other studios and its strong copyright protection mechanisms” (Hill and Jones 2009, p.240).
Blu-Ray did not hold such strong positions for a long time and in 2007 DreamWorks Animation and Paramount announced that they would release their products in HD-DVD format “exclusively” for eighteen months (Grimming 2007). In fact, Paramount’s comeback evoked different talks which were favorable for Sony. Paramount supported HD-DVD because Toshiba paid $150 million for that.
Sony could not waste such an opportunity to boast with its product stating that HD-DVD was losing and Toshiba was absolutely “desperate” since paid that huge amount of money to the studio for its support (Hill and Jones 2009, p.240). However, even these measures did not strengthen HD-DVD’s position much.
Thus, Blu-Ray Disc Association reports that “67 per cent of high-definition titles available at the start of July  in Britain, France and Spain were being sold by the studios in Blu-Ray (BD) Format” (Grimming 2007). Admittedly, these “star wars” could last for years, but Sony found one more way to strengthen Blu-Ray’s position on market.
Sony decided to incorporate Blu-Ray format in “next generation PS3 gaming console and its Vaio line of PCs” (Hill and Jones 2009, p.240). Admittedly, this could be a very effective move since numerous gamers worldwide would like to play in high-resolution format offered by Blu-Ray.
Nevertheless, Sony’s plans were not realized that soon since they face some technological problems which postponed the introduction of new products to the market. At the same time Microsoft announced that it would support HD-DVD players that “would work with its own gaming console, Xbox 360” (Hill and Jones 2009, p.240). Again, the two camps had approximately equal forces.
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It goes without saying that the two camps produced players for their formats. This production was another strategy to gain dominance on the market. Thus, in 2006 both companies presented their players.
It is necessary to mention that the first items sold by Sony contained some faults and this spoiled Sony’s image (Hill and Jones 2009, p.240). Nevertheless, soon all the defects were removed and Sony regained his leading position.
Moreover, by this time Sony managed to introduce its game consoles which become very popular. Sony’s PS3 could not only be used for playing games, but they could play movies as well, though it is reported that not many PS3 users actually used this function (Grimming 2007).
At this point it is necessary to mention that some electronic manufacturers (e.g. Samsung) produced players which supported both formats (Grimming 2007). However, they were very expensive (twice more than players supporting one format) so they were not very successful. Basically, people should have made their choice.
The year of 2008 was really successful for Sony since it put an end to the prolonged battle for dominance. Thus, in 2008 Warner Brothers started supporting Blu-Ray exclusively.
Besides, Wal-Mart and Best Buy also decided “to go exclusively” with this format (Vogel 2010, p.163). Basically, this was a complete victory of Blu-Ray. HD-DVD began losing its supporters. The battle of the formats came to an end.
In conclusion, it is possible to state that the two formats did not differ greatly in terms of technology. The battle was more concerned with strategy rather than technology. It turned out that Sony’s strategy was more effective.
Though, both companies, Sony and Toshiba, resorted to such means as producing players, or adjusting the format to video games, the major role in the battle belongs to film studios. Film industry is now one of the most powerful industries since it has millions of customers. Admittedly, millions of people worldwide buy discs to watch their favorite movies.
Clearly, studios had the final word in the battle of formats. Major film producers were choosing the most appropriate ally in the world of formats. The whales of cinematography decided that Blu-Ray would suit best their needs.
Thus, Sony obtained more support from studios which resulted in Blu-Ray format’s victory. This can be regarded as one more manifestation of the great power of cinematography which rules minds and formats.
Grimming, R 2007, ‘Blu-Ray Vs. HD-DVD: Disc War Divides Top Electronics Fair’, Digital Journal 25 August. Available from <http://www.digitaljournal.com/>. [31 March 2011].
Hill, C & Jones G 2009, Strategic Management Theory: An Integrated Approach, Cengage Learning, Mason, OH.
Null, L & Lobur, J 2006, The Essentials of Computer Organization and Architecture, Jones & Bartlett Learning, Sudbury, MA.
Vogel, HL 2010, Entertainment Industry Economics: A Guide for Financial Analysis, Cambridge University Press, New York, NY.