Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Format Wars

Two camps are fighting over who will make the next big medium, the replacement for DVDs. One group (spearheaded by Sony) is pushing the Blu-Ray disc. The other camp (notably spearheaded by Microsoft, Toshiba and others)

Blu-Ray discs are 25 G / layer, which means discs will typically be 25 or 50 G. They have made an 8-layer Blu-Ray disc that's 200 G, however. HD DVD has 15 G per layer, and they can only handle up to 3 layers per disc so far, for a paltry 45 G, but HD DVD drives are supposed to be much cheaper.

Currently, it looks like Blu-Ray discs cost less $ per G, but the players are almost twice as expensive.

Will consumers go for the better value in the long run, the cheaper hardware, the larger storage, or just not give a damn?

Here's a news release on a combo drive from Samsung:

That might suggest both formats will survive, and consumers won't know the difference, like with DVD-R and DVD+R.

On the other hand, here's a news story from the very next day saying that such a drive is unlikely for a while:

Maybe consumers will just stay out of the whole game completely, since it doesn't look like we'll have any $50 HD DVD or Blu-Ray players any time soon.