Disney: Sony PS3 Strategy was Blu-ray’s ‘Trojan Horse’

Chief Blu-ray Disc proponent Sony took a big risk in what turned out to be perhaps a key strategy that eventually helped result in its format’s defeat of HD DVD earlier this month: ensuring that every one of its PlayStation 3 game consoles came with an internal Blu-ray drive (whether gamers, at least in the beginning, wanted one or not). HD DVD players were sold strictly as standalone units or as optional add-ons to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game units. Feb. 23, Microsoft announced it will cease making HD DVD add-ons for its game console.

Analysts estimate that each Blu-ray drive included in a PS3 console probably cost Sony as much as $300 per unit. “The PlayStation 3 was a Trojan Horse,” Disney Studios Home Entertainment President Bob Chapek recently told the Los Angeles Times .

Disney was an early and loud support of Blu-ray. Toshiba’s problems started even before the first players were sold, and the house that Mouse built had apparently dealt HD DVD a serious blow on the eve of CES2005 when it suddenly announced it was dropping HD DVD for Blu-ray, following talks with Sony’s chief executive, Howard Stringer. Disney never released any of its titles in HD DVD, or in both formats simultaneously, as had some other major studios.

“Our efforts have only just begun,” Chapek said. “We [now] have to get the consumer to make the move from DVD to Blu-ray, now that the risk of picking the wrong format has gone.”

Meanwhile, Sony was busy Feb. 26 unveiling details of its first Blu-ray player designed to provide Internet connectivity, allowing what Sony said will be faster and easier access to firmware upgrades and additional interactive features.