In Next-Gen Disc War, Consumers Not Buying It

What if they had a war and nobody came? That age-old question may increasingly apply to the next-gen disc wars now underway between Sony’s Blu-ray Disc and Toshiba’s HD DVD formats—at least according to arguably the most influential general print media outlet in America, The New York Times.

The publication points out this week that more than a year-and-a-half after their introduction, both incompatible formats together have sold about a million standalone players. “Yet neither [format] has a clear advantage, either in terms of technology, number of movies or, increasingly, the price of the equipment,” it concludes. Citing data from Adams Media Research, it said just under 600,000 HD DVD and about 370,000 Blu-ray machines will have been purchased by the end of 2007. (Sony points out that it’s sold several times the number of stand-alone Blu-ray players with its PlayStation 3 internal drives.)

Yet out of the tens of thousands of standard DVD titles now available, only about 400 movies and other packaged content are available from both HD disc formats. And as for the lure of the next-gen’s advanced interactive features such as multiple camera angles, games, picture-in-picture content and enhanced resources via online connections, experts cite the fact that barely three percent of consumers desire such new options.

It seems that the relatively good quality of standard discs (especially played on a progressive-scan player and HD set) satisfies most consumers enough that they simply aren’t looking for a better and more costly alternative.