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The tale of two optical discs Essay

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Updated: May 4th, 2019

The Blu-ray and HD DVD discs work on the same technology, that is, the blue laser diode technology. The HD-DVD simply entailed putting together two discs in order have a single double-layered disc, hence doubling the storage capacity. This technology was economical as it had backward compatibility with the original DVD, hence, it did not require an overhaul of the machinery used to create the original DVD discs.

The Blu-Ray disc technology, on the other hand, was based on a complete redesign of the disc as it applied the blue laser’s ability to read minute spots on discs. Technological flaws and managerial strategies soon led to the discontinuation of the HD-DVD while the Blu-Ray disc has caught on.

The first flaw associated with the HD-DVD was disc capacity, whereas the HD-DVD disc had a maximum capacity of 15GB per side, the Blu-Ray disc has a maximum capacity of 25GB per side, hence, the memory limitation was obviously a factor that led to the discontinuation of the HD-DVD.

Secondly, The HD-DVD makers, Toshiba Company, failed to understand the application context of the consumers and movie studios- these users required higher capacity discs so that they could fit all media files movies onto one disc, rather than an alternative that was cheap but meant media files, especially videos, had to be separated on a number of discs.

The third factor for the Blu-Ray dominance resulted from the requirement that HD-DVDs could be manufactured on old DVD manufacturing machinery, a factor which worked against them.

The company this could provide a cheap alternative, however, they failed to recognize that the marketplace had considerably changed with improvements in communication tools, this meant that old technology was slowly being replaced by new ones.

Adoption of new technologies was occurring at a tremendous pace and this meant that mass production of Blu-Ray discs could still drive down the production costs considerably to make them a cheaper alternative.

Fourth, Sony’s strategic collaborations and acquisitions ensured that its technology superseded that of Toshiba. The firm’s acquisition and establishment of entertainment’s biggest names such as Columbia, Tri-Start, MGM Studios, Sony Pictures and Sony Television, ensured that Sony had a platform on which to apply or implement its Blu-Ray technology.

The formation of the Blu-Ray Disc Association (BDA) is also another strategic management approach that Sony has successfully used to promote its technology.

Sony’s BDA members was well represented by an remarkable list of supporters such as Disney, Dell, HP, Hitachi, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, TDK, Thomson, Vivendi Universal and Electronic Arts. The long list of supporters ensured that Blu-Ray discs had a well-established promotion team to market it.

The evidence of the success of Sony strategy began to show in the early 2007, for example, by late 2007, 154 Blu-ray titles were on the Australian market alone, compared to 47 titles in HD-DVD. As HD-DVD sales plummeted, consumers stopped buying them, fearing that this format would not be supported in future DVD players.

To promote their product further, Sony lowered the cost of Blu-ray players such as the PS3 console, and later as bundled “freebie” with the purchase of Sony’s television products.

The final strategy used that led to the ousting of the HD-DVD discs out of the market was the embedding of emerging and disruptive technologies into current technologies. Sony’s decision to embed the Blu-Ray technology into the Playstation 3 console was momentous towards the adoption of the technology by the mainstream population.

As the trend of media integration with gaming consoles emerged, the line between gaming and home entertainment thinned and it only became logical that Sony embed the Blu-Ray technology in the PS3 console. In fact, Sony’s first Blu-ray player was offered to consumers via the PS3 console, a very popular gaming device.

Embedding the Blu-Ray technology onto the PS3 gaming console also benefitted Sony indirectly: the move gave game developers a chance to create more interactive games with richer contents such as high definition audio and movie clips. As games improved on all fronts, the adoption of Blu-Ray discs continued among game enthusiasts.

Toshiba, on the other hand did not have such an opportunity since it did not produce any gaming equipment. Although Toshiba and Microsoft had partnered to embed the HD-DVD onto X-Box.

The plan failed since consumers did not consider it a perfect application platform since it was presented as a separate piece of hardware separate from the X-Box. besides, the sales of the HD-DVD add-on for x-Box only had a low sales figure of 3,000 units in 2007 compared to 84,000 units of Blu-Ray embedded PS3’s, once again it demonstrated that most x-Box users did not see the value of the HD-DVD.

This is a major reason for the downfall of Toshiba’s HD-DVD technology and the dominance of Sony’s Blu-Ray discs.

The battle between the two technologies eventually ended in February 2008 when Toshiba announced that it would halt the production of the discs.

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