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Friday, November 2, 2007

Warner Bros let their Blu-Ray license "expire"?

Word is getting around that WB let their Blu-Ray license expire last night. The cost is a mere 40k so I doubt money was the issue. As many of you know by know, WB will make a decision this quarter as to which to jump, HD-DVD or Blu-Ray. To be frank, the comments from Dan Silverberg at WB can be taken either way but were also taken out of context by a Blu-Ray loving reporter. So beyond the interpretation of recent WB comments, let's look at the real reasons WB would choose HD-DVD over Blu-Ray.

1. WB has consistently put more support behind HD-DVD than Blu-Ray. Batman Begins and V for Vendetta are perfect examples of titles released on HD-DVD months before Blu-Ray. The Matrix is still ONLY available on HD-DVD because the Blu-Ray player profiles did not have mandatory support the advanced features of PiP and True HD. These features are mandatory on ALL HD-DVD stand-alone players.

2. Cost of Manufacturing - Blu-Ray yields are bad. Apparently 2 or 3 of 10 are good. The cost per disk is also high. Blu-Ray is over 5.00 per disk vs 1.00 to 1.50 for HD-DVD.

3. Cost of implementing interactive features such as PiP (overlay for commentary or tech specs/GPS like Miami Vice or Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift) and Web Interactivity is much cheaper. To program these features for Blu-Ray one must use a programmer who MUST write near a hundred lines or more of code. To implement HDi which is similar to HTML, one does not need to be a programmer which means less cost per disk.

4. Incompatibilities - Many early adopters of Blu-Ray will have issues with playback in the future due to Blu-Ray hardware being very different from manufacture to manufacture because the specs were not mandatory till TODAY. New players that are released after today will probably be ok but old players could see unexpected problems. Beware..

5. HD-DVD Player Price - We all know that player prices are dropping like crazy. Tomorrow the A2 can be had for 98.00 and you can buy the A2 from Amazon, Best Buy, Circuit City and Walmart (starting Saturday) for under 200.00. LOW PRICES is ALWAYS the beginning of mass adoption and with most consumers not taking full advantage of their HDTV's, these cheap players are the perfect opportunity to acquire the latest and greatest for cheap. ;)

6. WB has already said that Home Players sales are the sales that REALLY matter and that PS3 title sales cannot be predicted because you do not know how many PS3 owners will buy movies. When someone purchases an Toshiba HD-DVD or 360 HD-DVD Player you know those consumers WILL buy movies or they would NOT have made the purchase at all. The PS3 is a game machine first then Blu-Ray Player second. For Blu-Ray to make a huge dent with PS3 consumers would need to purchase more than one (PS3) or you will have people fighting over watching movies or playing games (in many households, not all). Nielson and other stat trackers do not count the PS3 as part of the Home Player sales.

Now, everyone is locked on the 2 to 1 software lead Blu-Ray has over HD-DVD. This means nothing when the format is FAR more expensive to produce content for and with the PS3 the Blu-Ray camps has like a 10+ to 1 hardware lead when it comes to players. With such a large hardware lead their lead should be much more but it is NOT as the PS3 is not really producing the numbers these studios expected. In fact, if it were not for the PS3, Blu-Ray would be dead ALREADY!

Considering all of these factors and reasons for WB to side with HD-DVD I would be VERY shocked if WB choose Blu-Ray over HD-DVD. I could be totally wrong but then again, logic generally prevails.

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