SAN FRANCISCO The conventional wisdom holds that, much like the Betamax-VHS war of the early 1980s, one format will emerge the winner of the HD DVD versus Blu-Ray next-generation DVD format battle that is shaping up to start this summer. But that's not necessarily the case, according to at least one industry analyst.
Chris Crotty, senior analyst of the consumer electronics segment at market research firm iSuppli Corp., believes the DVD format war will result in stalemate, at least in the short term.
For one thing, according to Crotty, neither technology offers a distinct technology advantage over the other. "It's not as if you can point to one of them and say, 'this is significantly better, for these reasons,' " Crotty told EE Times Friday (June 23).
Both formats, for example, are build on the Advanced Access Content System (AACS), the new standard for content distribution and digital rights management intended to limit sharing and copying of the next generation of DVDs.
A second rationale for Crotty's predicted stalemate is content providers. For now, some have said they will publish in both formats, and some say they will publish in only one.
"I personally think that studios are very interested in making money," Crotty said. "You have to think that the smart studios are going to have to ask themselves very seriously, 'are we leaving money on the table?' "
Just as video game companies routinely publish games for use on different gaming systems, the majority of studios will soon be publishing movies for both HD DVD and Blu-Ray, Crotty said, adding that the resources and effort required to publish on two DVD formats are significantly less than programming video games to work on other consoles.
Crotty acknowledged that publishing in both formats would be tougher for a company like Sony Pictures. Sony Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. are the primary backers of the Blu-Ray Disk format.
Crotty said that it's likely that forward-thinking consumer electronics companies will offer DVD players that support both formats by the holiday season. Companies like South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and LG Electronics Co. Ltd. are rumored to be developing dual-format players, he said.
HD DVD versus Blu-Ray will be a lot different than Beta versus VHS, Crotty said. For one thing, unlike the 1980s, when VHS bested Beta, which was considered to be the better technology, through sheer marketing efforts, today's consumers have access to a great deal more information through the Internet. Once companies bring to market players that support both formats, it will also be less of an issue, he said.
"The consumers in the market will not tolerate two formats, unless it doesn't matter, unless it's moot," Crotty said.