I commented on [http://personal.fuyuko.net/2008/02/blu-ray-is-winnerbye-bye-hd-dvd.html an entry in Fuyuko's blog] last month, writing the following:
: I programmed HD DVD stuff for a couple years (so it’s safe to say I’m a little biased, but trying to be objective here)… basically the Blu Ray win sucks (slightly) for consumers, too! (1) Blu Ray has region codes, but HD DVD doesn’t. Blu Ray has more complex/draconian copy protection. (2) There’s a free SDK from Microsoft online for creating interactive HDi apps (as of years ago), but for Blu Ray currently (or at least as of last year) the only way to go is a $60,000 authoring package from Sony. (3) The HD DVD specification was complete several years back, and all players conform to it; Blu Ray is still evolving as far as I know, so older players aren’t necessarily going to be compatible with the newest content. Also, there was no requirement for players to have an Ethernet port, so old players can’t necessarily have their firmware updated, either.
: It’s good that the “format war” is over (’cause now it’s safe to go out and buy a player), but anyone who thinks the result had anything to do with consumer choice is wrong.
Andy’s blog entry linked above relates pretty clearly the general demeanor of the format war, and why it wasn’t anything like VHS vs. Betamax all over again. It’s true that at the end of the day, technology still improves at its typical pace, and that Blu-Ray is far superior to DVD in most ways, but when we look at what //could// have been, clearly consumers are the biggest losers. But consumers were very careful to not get involved in the fighting, opting instead to let “the market” fight it out and choose a format before they did. (The market being, whom? Other consumers who were also sitting on the fence? Technology reviewers who were sitting on the fence? Nobody wanted to argue the case for one side, to recommend that consumers purchase one format or the other and to lay out the reasons, for fear of being wrong — when that’s just what consumers count on technology experts and pundits for.) I guess nobody felt strongly about region codes, player updateability and backwards compatibility, availability of authoring tools, standards maturity, interactive features when movies were compared side by side, interface (i.e., menus, applications) appearance when movies were compared side by side, and so on… and so fear (of taking sides) generally ruled the day, and Sony got to bully some studios and stores around, and in the end successfully bullied the market into submission.