Gateway neutral on Blu-ray debate

Tech Culture

Despite the intensifying debate between Blu-ray and HD DVD technologies, Gateway is retaining quite the Zen posture.

Perhaps it's the rolling green hills around the I-405 near the Irvine, Calif.-based PC maker's headquarters that allows it to rise above the din of format war between Toshiba, Intel, and Microsoft on one side and just about everybody else on the other side.

When asked to clarify its position, John Schindler, who heads Gateway's convergence and product planning said that the company has not confirmed its plans to support either format.

"Even though Gateway's nemeses Dell and Hewlett-Packard publicly came out in support of Blu-ray earlier this month?"

"Why yes, we're not commenting on what position we are taking," came the reply.

"What's holding Gateway back from taking a stand?" I inquired.

"We are primarily waiting for the content providers (read: movie studios) to decide what they want to do," Schindler said. Currently, the studios are split 50-50 on what format they'd like to see become the industry standard.

"Fair enough, but what about any influence from Microsoft or Intel?" (two of Gateway's closest partners.)

"We consider their support, but we are still not ready to make a decision," Schindler said.

Gateway's other motivation for making up its mind would be retailers such as Circuit City and Best Buy, according to Schindler.

When I asked Circuit City about their take on the Blu-ray HD DVD debate, spokeswoman Amanda Tate was nice enough to explain that the company has also not committed to one format. She added though that when retailers have to carry two similar but different products and support a supply chain for both, it creates confusion for customers.

"We have that situation with our XM and Sirius satellite radio products," she said.

Both are merchandised together in the same area so customers can get a side by side comparison. Tate also added that Circuit City usually staffs one or two specialists to help explain the benefits of both.

So unless the studios make up their mind or one side throws in the towel, it's likely that you'll see even more competition for your tech dollars.

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