DVD Wars

For some reason, when Sony invented the Betamax, they really pushed it in Sarnia. For years, long after the videotape wars were over and dead, video stores in Sarnia were still stocking Beta versions of movies because so many people there bought Betamax VCRs.

So that painful history has influenced my decision to stay away from the HD-DVD/Blu-ray format wars. I have a huge DVD collection, and I’m not touching the new formats until a front-runner emerges.

Yesterday, Blockbuster announced that they were going to exclusively stock Blu-ray DVDs. Now, most of the articles that I’ve read seem to be saying, “This is it! The final nail in the coffin for HD-DVD”. Me, I’m not so convinced. I mean, Blockbuster hasn’t made especially good decisions with regards to DVD rentals, and so I don’t look to them for industry trend-setting.

Two things strike me as interesting about the Blu-ray/HD-DVD wars. One is the question of who’s taking sides. HD-DVD is supported by companies such as Microsoft and Sony (oops, not Sony after all). Blu-ray by Apple, Dell and Sun. Edit: And Sony on Blu-ray.

One of the things I find a little bit interesting is Blu-ray’s support for Java. Apparently Blu-ray players will have a specific type of Java Virtual Machine embedded in them, to run software that’s bundled on the discs. I’ve been half-interested to learn more about this, but haven’t really had the time.

The other thing that I find interesting about the “battle” is the industry analysis that is busy debating whether or not the pornography industry is going to influence the outcome. Apparently, one of the factors in the Betamax/VHS wars was that video pornography was largely distributed on VHS, and that turned out to tip the scales. Wikipedia says this:

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Sources claim history as a reference, that the pornography industry may have a big influence in the HD DVD versus Blu-ray format war, at least when it comes to home rental and retail purchases or pressed movies as it generates multi-billion annual revenue worldwide, (with US$57 billion in annual revenue worldwide reported in May, 2006). Although this was a major factor during the VHS/Betamax war, due to the fact of consumers previously not having any means of home viewing, it remains to be seen whether the current format war will be affected similarly.

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There are articles that debate this point, but it’s a little bit fascinating to see mainstream technology businesses looking carefully at the trends of the pr0n industry in order to speculate on the outcome of a video format war.

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