Why Did Blu-Ray Beat HD-DVD in the Race to Replace the DVD?

blu ray vs hd dvdThere were a number of factors that contributed to the prevalence of Blu-ray technology over HD-DVD in the battle of the high definition video disc that would replace ordinary DVDs. This battle lasted for almost a decade, involving all major electronics companies, film studios and production companies and of course consumers, who were caught in the middle of the ongoing fight.

It all started in 2000, when the innovative technology of blue lasers, instead of red, was utilized in optical disc systems. The wavelength of blue laser beam is much shorter than red. Because of this, data can be stored in much less actual space, providing a disc of the size of a DVD with at least three times its regular capacity. This additional space is used to store high definition video.

So, in 2000 Sony and Pioneer revealed DVR Blue, which was the cradle of Blu-ray discs. Two years later, Sony introduced the Blu-ray Disc plans. A few months later, Toshiba and Nec propose a new disc format that would later become the HD DVD. In October 1st 2002, at Japan’s Ceatec exhibition, Toshiba demonstrated the predecessor of HD DVD, AOD (Advanced Optical Disc). At the same time, Sony, Pioneer, Sharp, Panasonic and JVC unveiled a prototype Blu-ray Disc recorder. A year later, Mitsubishi Electric joins the Blu-ray Disc team, which is getting ahead by commercializing its products and releasing the first Blu-ray recorder at the price of almost 4,000 USD.

In 2004, Toshiba introduces to the market the first HD-DVD player, which is also compatible with DVDs. It gains support by HBO, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures. However, the Blu-ray format is growing and gaining recognition. Hewlett-Packard and Dell advocate in favor of Blu-ray, together with Walt Disney Pictures.

The following year was rather confusing. Having two formats was pointless, so Toshiba and Sony discussed the possibility of an integration, however their talks were inconclusive. Lions Gate Home Entertainment and Universal Music Group decided to back Blu-ray, while Microsoft and Intel decided to support HD-DVD. Paramount and Hewlett-Packard revised their decision of an exclusive support. A little later in 2006, LG, which was thought to be a Blu-ray supporter, announced that it is developing an HD-DVD drive. At that point, things were very ambivalent.

The two following years were turbulent. In 2007, LG introduced a dual-format player, while Warner Bros unveils a disc holding both formats. These were unsuccessful attempts to preserve both formats since this was not cost effective. One after the other, movie production studios dropped one of the two formats. There was a price plummeting of Toshiba products through 2007. At the early beginning of 2008, Warner Bros announced that will drop HD-DVD format. Within the next few days, Toshiba tried to sell out. Major retailers in the US gradually phased out HD-DVD. Best Buy and Netflix announced their intention a few days before Wal-Mart. And on the 16th of February 2008, it was broadcasted that Toshiba discontinues the production of HD-DVD players.

The Blu-ray preceded the HD-DVD and had built a stronger foundation. The Blu-ray team consisted of a great number of companies, many of which participated in the original projects. The Blu-ray does offer some advantages over the HD-DVD format. As a result, when Toshiba lost the support of Warner Bros, merely lost the fight.