Whenever I think of the fight between Blu-ray and HD-DVD for high-resolution DVD dominance, I have a nasty flashback to the battle between Betamax and VHS formats for VCRs. We all know how that story ended, and it wasn't exactly friendly to consumers -- lots of people ended up with Betamax players and tapes that were obsolete. That's why I found headlines about Time Warner's
To get you up to speed, the Blu-ray high-definition format is made by Sony
When it comes to the high-definition DVD players, so far consumers also have to choose. There are other options for viewing as well, like game consoles, but they also fall into two camps. For example, you can play standard-format DVDs on Microsoft's
Warner Bros.' move to provide a dual-format disc is interesting to say the least -- and not too surprising, since the company filed for a patent in September for a triple-layer disc, for viewing either of the HD formats or the current standard format, a nice move. And a little bit of its competitive impact is lost when you consider that dual-format players are in fact coming -- for example, LG Electronics is expected to launch a DVD player that plays both high-definition formats early this year.
It seems to me that any moves to embrace both formats make it easier for consumers to navigate this battle royale. After all, while people are snapping up high-definition televisions at a rapid rate, it stands to reason that many would be reluctant to choose a camp when it comes to the rival formats with the ghost of Betamax rattling around -- once burned, twice shy, you know. To get the high-def DVD revolution to move forward, it's good to hear that some companies are willing to deal with reality: choosing sides -- and trying to force consumers to pay big money to do the same -- is a strategically unwise, and maybe even downright dumb, move.
To learn more about this battle, which has been brewing for quite some time:
- Revisit Warner Bros.' patent application for a triple-layer hybrid disc.
- Flash back to delays for Blu-ray.
- Last spring, one Fool asked, "Are You Ready for High-Definition?"
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.