HD-DVD delay, keeping things in perspective

March 26, 2006

HD-DVDYou might have noticed I haven’t mentioned either Blu-ray or HD-DVD in the last 10 days or so. This was due to nothing more than the repetitive nature of hi-def DVD news in general that we’ve all heard a hundred times. So let’s take a look at some headlines from around the web about HD-DVD’s delay, if nothing else it’ll prove my point about repetitive news and how it can cloud the real story.

Toshiba may delay HD–DVD’s launch until April (Reuters)
Late arrival for HD–DVD (Australian IT)
Toshiba may delay HD–DVD’s launch until April (Reuters.co.uk)
Toshiba delays HD–DVD rollout (Reuters via Yahoo! News)
Toshiba delays HD–DVD rollout (HD Beat)
Toshiba Delays HD–DVD Player until Mid–April (I4U)

No big deal, some would say different news outlets often post the same stories. Yeah of course they do. The part I left out however is that the headlines above were all taken from stories posted on the same day and all within a few hours of each other.

Reading, make that scanning through these headlines the overall impression would obviously be that HD-DVD was delayed. And while that is indeed true, we’re only talking about four weeks, not six months or even indefinitely, but many of the comments these posts received and some of the posts themselves contained an ominous tone, as if this was curtains for HD-DVD.

I’m getting to my point; yes I actually had a point with all this. Ok point (1) no need for me to sit here and rehash the same ol’ crap everyone else does (especially in the same 4 hour time block) and more importantly (2) let’s not to lose sight of why the decision to delay was announced.

Warner home video was supposed to deliver the first set of HD-DVD’s on March 28th but the new release date is now April 18th. This and this reason alone is why Toshiba decided to delay the players launch. So there you have it, no secretive talks with Sony, no critical flaws with the players themselves, not even last minute hedging on the marketability, just a lack of HD-DVD media to use with the players.

A distributor we do business with told me that a large number of the players are already on the west coast and ready to be shipped out as soon as HD-DVD titles hit the shelves. Conspiracy theorist would have you believe that this is HD-DVD’s death knell, but nothing could be farther from the truth. A company as large as Toshiba didn’t make it this far by making premature, halfhearted gambles on new technologies.

As a matter of fact Toshiba completed the world’s first optical-disc based data filing systems back in 1979, and went on to be among the first companies to introduce DVD players. So no matter which (if any) side you’ve already aligned yourself with in the high definition DVD format war, I’d strongly recommend against ruling Toshiba out as a player in the field.

If I had to make a prediction about the outcome of the format war, about the only one I’d feel safe making is that at this time next year we’ll still be arguing about who will come out on top. Per usual don’t take my comments as an endorsement for either format, just general observations about how the whole things unfolding.

A lot of folks continue to point to outdated formats like Betamax and Minidisc as examples of where all this is headed, but in my estimation we’re long past the point of either one of these formats winning on their technical merits. This isn’t a format war it’s a marketing war, where perception is 99% reality and that in my opinion is the real story. This will come down to price and availability and not which player was delayed for a week, month, or even half a year.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under HD-DVD