Could the end of the format war end Blu-ray?

What if ending the high-definition format war ends both formats?

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Toshiba may be considering dropping HD DVD in the next few weeks. The HD DVD deathwatch has been on since they canceled their CES event after Warner announced its switch to Blu-ray exclusively.

This news got me thinking. Consumers have been waiting on the sideline for one format to win. But what if you end a war and nobody cares? I don't expect the coronation of Blu-ray as the high-definition king will cause consumers to stampede to buy Blu-ray players.

Another thing to consider is the "war" has kept folks talking about Blu-ray and HD DVD. But if the war ends, the talk, and the free publicity, ends too. DVD players haven't historically been big headline-grabbers. Blu-ray players will have to do something extra nifty to get people talking again.

Finally, video-on-demand is penetrating the home. Almost all major cable services in the US and Canada offer it. DirecTV just started rolling it out to it's subscribers. Also, Apple fans can snarf up the Apple TV and buy high-definition movies right from the set-top box now. With the ability to get HD movies in your house already, what's it going to take to push someone into buying a Blu-ray player?

The studios could start releasing some movies only in Blu-ray, but that might backfire. It's a delicate balance that the Blu-ray folks should be able to navigate. However, if they get overconfident at their "win" they could easily blow it.

Of course all this requires HD DVD to bow out, but I think at this point it's reasonable to assume it will bow out whether it's the next few weeks or the next few months. But that will only mean Blu-ray has defeated HD DVD. It won't mean Blu-ray won consumer's hearts.

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