Forrester Research is predicting that the Blu-ray format will win out over HD-DVD in the battle to become the next DVD format standard, according to a Reuters article. The Forrester report goes on to say that consumers will pay the price for this standards war with confusion and doubt, especially if HD-DVD supporters donit back down.
If both formats emerge in DVD players and computers in 2006, consumers will be left with the uncertainty of who the winner really is, and will most likely wait another two years before regaining confidence in the DVD player market.
Both technologies promise to bring higher capacity, better quality DVDs to consumers, but they are not compatible with each other.
Sonyis Blu-ray technology lets a DVD hold at least 25GB per disc, and is backed in part by Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Sony Pictures, MGM and Walt Disney. Toshibais HD-DVD, by comparison, holds less data at 15GB per disc. It has the backing of Hollywood studios including Universal Studios, Warner Bros., and Paramount Pictures. Technology heavyweights Microsoft and Intel also support Toshibais technology in part because itis much cheaper to transition current disc production facilities to support HD-DVD than it is to support Blu-ray.
The film studios are now the key to breaking the stalemate, and Paramount made the first move by announcing that it will release movies in both formats. Warner Bros. followed suit on Friday announcing that it, too, will sell DVDs in both formats, leaving Universal Studios as the only Hollywood studio outside of the Blue-ray camp.
Appleis decision to support Blu-ray places it in what looks to be the winning camp. Even if there is a long and bloody battle on the consumer playing field, Apple will still fair well because of its position as a media delivery power house.
If consumers take a "wait and see" attitude towards the new DVD formats, they will focus instead on video on demand, downloadable video, and viewing programs on the Internet. Appleis iTunes Music Store is ready to provide that content, and may prove enticing to studios if they see weak DVD sales.
There is still a slim chance that a unified DVD format can be agreed upon, but Apple stands to be a winner regardless of the outcome.
[Update: This story has been updated with additional information.]