Blockbuster deals a blow to the HD-DVD format

Blockbuster, a major retailer of movies for rent and/or sale, has announced that they will no longer carry the HD-DVD format. Opting instead to only offer the Blu-ray format for High-Definition movies in their stores (approx. 250 stores across North America currently offer both formats). The decision was based on claims that 70% of customers have chosen the Blu-ray format over the HD-DVD format. Seeing the disparity in volume between the two formats and the finite space to stock movie titles, Blockbuster chose to discontinue future availability of the HD-DVD format.

“The consumers are sending us a message. I can’t ignore what I’m seeing,” Matthew Smith, senior vice president of merchandising at Blockbuster, told the AP. This is a significant blow to the HD-DVD format and a not so subtle nod for the Blu-ray format. Given their size and influence on the market, consumers who regularly frequent Blockbuster to rent or purchase movies and looking to purchase a hi-def player will be motivated to choose a Blu-ray player due to the overwhelming choices of Blu-ray product to rent in comparison to the HD-DVD format.

Obviously the consortium behind the HD-DVD format is not happy and sees Blockbusters choice as shortsighted and premature. “I think trying to make a format decision using such a short time period is really not measuring what the consumer is saying,” said Ken Graffeo, co-president of the North American HD DVD Promotional group.

Even though it’s still early in the format war, HD-DVD has just suffered a major set back similar to what marked the demise of the BETA format in magnetic video tape during the 80’s. Is this the beginning of the end for HD-DVD or just the beginning of another installment in the battle for market supremacy? The competition has been great for lowering prices, but eventually one of the formats will have to bow out or combine forces if they hope to survive, but will it be too late by then?

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