Gartner analyst: HD DVD has until the end of 2008

A Gartner analyst today predicted that, based on the numbers of movies expected to be available for the two warring high-def disc formats, that HD DVD will once and for all lose out to Blu-ray by the end of this year.

"Gartner expects that, by the end of 2008, Blu-ray will be the winning format in the consumer market, and the war will be over," according to Gartner analyst Hiroyuki Shimizu, writing in Gartner's Semiconductor DQ report today.

Gartner's principal analyst for Japan also acknowledged that Toshiba's and others' price-cutting moves might help to keep HD DVD on life support for a little while longer. "But the limited line-up of film titles will inflict fatal damage on the format," he contended.

Toshiba rolled out its latest wave of price reductions on HD DVD in mid-January, following an earlier wave of price cuts last fall. Sony fought back by bringing down its own prices on PlayStation 3 consoles in November.

Meanwhile, the majority of Hollywood studios -- though not yet all -- are now supporting Sony's competing Blu-ray format exclusively.

But 2008 has only just begun, and other questions still linger. For instance:

  • How much of a boost will Toshiba's HD DVD continue to enjoy from Universal and Paramount, two major film studios that are still supporting HD DVD, to the total exclusion of Blu-ray?
  • Will early Blu-ray adopters overcome their animosities at Sony for forcing them to abandon their initial investments in Blu-ray because of incompatibilities between Profiles 1.0, 1.1, and 2.0?
  • If the high-def disc player price battle keeps raging anyway, what kind of financial impact might be felt by Sony, whose Blu-ray technology is more costly to produce than HD DVD?
  • With market penetration still so low for high-def discs, how important is the number of available film titles at this point anyway?
  • Might Microsoft -- a competitor in the gaming market against PlayStation -- act to counter Sony's Blu-ray by releasing new high-def HD DVD game titles for the Xbox 360, whose attachment HD DVD only, to the exclusion of Blu-ray?
  • Will US consumers allow the outcome of this struggle to be determined by film studios, game producers, and foreign investors, or will they ultimately insist on deciding for themselves?

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