Wal-Mart Joins HD-DVD Exodus

Dennis Faas's picture

Earlier last week we reported that Best Buy decided to heavily back Blu-Ray in the next generation DVD format wars. We wrote that the battle appeared to be nearing its climax, and now Wal-Mart may be striking the killer blow to the rival HD-DVD system.

While Best Buy plans to continue stocking both formats (but put all its promotional backing behind Blu-Ray), Wal-Mart is dropping HD-DVD completely. Their head of home entertainment, Gary Severson, said "We've listened to our customers, who are showing a clear preference toward Blu-Ray products and movies with their purchases."

They'll be phasing out all HD-DVD products in their 4,000 nationwide stores by June. Wal-Mart will continue to stock standard definition DVDs and players.

Sony, the firm behind Blu-Ray, had gained momentum by signing exclusive release deals with major movie producers such as Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, MGM and Warner Brothers.

Only Paramount (and subsidiary Dreamworks) and Universal had opted for HD-DVD, which is a technology produced by Toshiba. It remains to be seen how they'll respond, but they won't be happy with Wal-Mart no longer being an outlet for their movies. (Source: google.com)

Game consoles also played some role in the market. Sony's Playstation 3, as you'd expect, plays Blu-Ray movie discs only. The Microsoft X-Box 360 is HD-DVD exclusive, but the firm said last month they would consider supporting Blu-Ray technology.

Producers may actually be happy the format war is nearing an end. High-definition DVDs were expected to revive the home movie market, but it seems many consumers were unwilling to buy players while there were two rival systems.

Toshiba aren't commenting on rumors that they are about to admit defeat. A spokesperson said simply "We cannot comment on speculation." (Source: reuters.com)

It's conceivable the Wal-Mart decision might not be an immediate fatal blow – many Blu-Ray titles are re-releases of older movies which are more likely to be picked up by home cinema buffs rather than Wal-Mart's bargain hunter clientele. But the success of the original DVD system suggests the market will inevitably demand a universal format, and it now seems the only question is when Blu-Ray will get its coronation.

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