Warner plumps for Blu-ray

07 Jan 2008

Warner Bros decision to release movies on Blu-ray has become the story of the Consumer Electronics Show, the year-opening set piece for the tech sector.

Announced late last week, the move has almost certainly tipped the balance against rival HD-DVD in the battle over high-definition video.

It's certainly being reported that way by the Financial Times, Business Weekand the Japanese press. The FT reports that 70% of Hollywood movies will now be issued exclusively on Blu-ray.

Until now Warner, which has the largest movie back catalogue, has been releasing moves in HD-DVD format.

The two camps arose out of the one industry body aimed at developing a hi-def standard. Put simply, the HD-DVD was a simpler, more cost-effective upgrade. Blu-ray has greater capacity but requires a more expensive consumer device.

The battle has become particularly intense in the last few months, with tens of millions in incentives being offered by the respective camps. Warner has denied it has received any financial incentive.

Toshiba, HD-DVD's main backer, was reportedly surprised by the decision, and will focus now on pushing installation of HD-DVD drives in PCs, the Nikkei business daily said.

This contest, involving high-profile electronics firms as well as Hollywood studios, has been seen by some as a reprise of the video battle of the late 1970s in which Sony's Beta lost out to VHS.

On this occasion, Sony looks to have triumphed over Toshiba and its key partners, IT heavyweights Microsoft and Intel.

In any case, the scale of the market and cast of Hollywood and IT stars will ensure this contest will be as well-remembered as the last video battle.

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