HD DVD vs Blu-Ray
The modern format war.
There have been many battles in history. Britain vs Germany, Coca Cola vs Pepsi, Fortnite vs PUBG. But none have been as interesting as the war between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Two went in, one came out, who won? You’re about to find out.
This story starts all the way back in 2000 when Sony and Pioneer unveiled DVR Blue at Japan’s Ceatec show. This unreleased format later became the basis for the first Blu-ray Disc. Then, on February 19th 2002 in Japan, the Blu-ray format was unveiled from 9 major technology companies led by Sony. The companies believed that this would be the next big format to replace DVDs (skipping all the technical mumbo-jumbo, Blu-ray discs contains up to 27 GB of data of one layer, single-sided disc which is played using a 405 nm blue-violet laser). Only a few months later, however, Toshiba (one of Sony’s rivals) revealed that they were actually working on a new next-gen format themselves, known simply as the HD-DVD. Both companies showcased prototypes at that year’s Ceatec.
The seeds had been laid. The battle had begun.
2003 saw the first Blu-ray disc recorder be released in Japan, Mitsubishi Electric joining the Blu-ray side and the beginning of Blu-ray licensing. All was quiet on the HD-DVD front. Maybe they had already quit before the war had barely begun? Not likely as 2004-2007 became busy years for both sides. Studios quickly signed onto either format, with HD-DVD gaining support from Paramount Pictures (they also supported Blu-ray until August 2007), Universal, New Line Cinema, Warner Bros, HBO and DreamWorks Animation while Blu-ray grabbed Sony Pictures (Columbia), 20th Century Fox, Disney, and Lions Gate Entertainment. Microsoft and Intel sided with HD-DVD with an additional player for the Xbox 360 (which had just released at the time). Sony, HP and Dell meanwhile went for Blu-ray support with the then-new Playstation 3 having it right out of the box. The first HD-DVD player went on sale and so did Blu-ray players. Sales shot up for both formats. Everything was perfect on both sides as they battled for shelve space and the consumer’s approval.
However, the tables would soon turn in Sony’s favour. Warner Bros dropped a bombshell on January 4th 2008. Warner had announced that it would drop HD-DVD support and switch exclusively to Blu-ray. After this announcement, HD-DVD would begin its slow and painful downfall. Netflix, Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart and Blockbuster (remember them?) all dropped HD-DVD sales. Universal, DreamWorks, New Line Cinema and others that had joined the format over the years all moved to Blu-ray. Finally, on February 20th 2008, only 1 day after Toshiba discontinued their development of HD-DVD, Paramount became the last company to switch to Blu-ray, finally killing off the format once and for all.
In conclusion, HD-DVD was never going to last the test of time. Sony already owned one movie company with Columbia which meant that no matter what, Blu-ray would always emerge the victor. It was doomed to fail. But that’s why I (and many other people) love it so much.