Obituary: HD DVD 2002-2008

No flowers, please


Samsung had been pondering a dual-format player since September 2005, but 2007 finally saw the company launch the machine, besting LG's effort by incorporating iHD as well as BD Java.

LG Super BH100 Blu-ray/HD DVD player

LG's Super BH100 Blu-ray/HD DVD player: one machine, two formats

2007 also saw both the Blu-ray and HD DVD camps presenting statistics that they claimed showed their respective formats were the consumers' choice. Typically, the HD DVD Promotional Group focused on numbers that showed more standalone HD DVD players were in circulation than Blu-ray players, ignoring the PS3. But it didn't ignore Sony's console when publishing the average number of discs bought by each HD player and console owner, which again cast HD DVD in the brighter light.

That may have helped persuade studios Paramount and Dreamworks Animation to focus solely on HD DVD at the expense of Blu-ray. Paramount, like Warner, had up til August 2007 supported both formats, but Warner, because of its leading market share, was the real prize, and both camps began courting it even more solicitously.

Venturer SHD7000

Venturer's SHD7000 HD DVD player: low cost

What mattered most, though, were sales of the PS3, which far outweighed sales of either HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc players, but were creating pull-through for BD, to the extent that software sales were tilted in favour of Blu-ray by as much as 3:1.

When Warner was first rumoured to be on the verge of going exclusively Blu-ray, while it denied it had come to a decision, it did say it was watching the Christmas sales figures closely.

Then, in January 2008, Warner declared for Blu-ray. The HD DVD Promotional Group immediately cancelled its annual CES announcement and pondered its future. HD DVD player sales slumped in the US after the Warner revelation, though they picked up some later, thanks to aggressive discounting on Toshiba's part.

In the UK, retail chain Woolworths soon said it would go Blu-ray exclusively in its stores, and on the other side of the pond, Best Buy, Netflix and Wal-Mart did the same.

If there was a way forward, Toshiba couldn't see it, and on 19 February 2008, it formally announced it was ceasing production of HD DVD players and recorders.

The HD format war was, to all intents and purposes, over.


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