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Has Blu-ray won the format war?

The war is over. Well, that's the buzz from CES, where everyone's talking about Warner Bros' suspiciously timed decision to dump HD DVD and become a Blu-ray-only studio.

Blu-ray Disc

The war is over. Well, that's the buzz from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where everyone's talking about Warner Bros' suspiciously timed decision to dump HD DVD and become a Blu-ray-only studio.

The announcement came on Friday -- two days before tech journos from all over the world rocked up to CES to hear Toshiba extol the virtues of the HD DVD format. To add insult to injury, the free backpacks given to members of the press feature an HD DVD logo, and Vegas is currently plastered with HD DVD advertising. You notice it as soon as you step off the plane: a giant poster adorns the luggage carousel.

While it's too early to immediately call it a win for Blu-ray, HD DVD will struggle to survive without the support of Warner. At Toshiba's press conference this morning, there were no words minced. Jodi Salley, vice president of marketing for digital audio and video products, summed up the disappointment in saying "I fully expected to come here this morning to share with you the successes of the last year of HD DVD; the events of the last few days have shifted the focus of my comments."

On the flip side, Blu-ray product manufacturers are grinning. In their press conferences today, reps from Philips and Panasonic were especially enthusiastic when unveiling their new players.

Warner becomes a house of Blu-ray by the end of May this year. The fact that the studio was initially exclusively committed to HD DVD -- before supporting both high-def formats, then finally jumping on Blu-ray last week -- sends a strong message to the media and consumers. Will the format war still be raging at next year's CES? Either way, the HD DVD side has suffered critical injuries.