Format Wars: What Are the Lessons of the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD Battle?

The New York Times has a story about the Format War Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD. They asked some people to voice their opinion on the topic.

Shane Greenstein, professor of management and strategy at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University:
“Each hardware vendor lined up a large coalition, launched a sophisticated campaign, and fully funded their marketing efforts. Such sophistication led to large sunk expenses. That put both sides in a position to lose money unless the war settled quickly.”

Pai-Ling Yin, assistant professor of strategy at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management:
“This battle will end with both HD-DVD and Blu-ray retreating in the face of a new challenger: digital downloading. …. This question brings us to the larger war: the next-generation DVD player is only one battle in the larger war over the living room. Who will control the home entertainment center?”

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Technological Platform Wars – The Winners & Loosers

Wouldn’t it be interesting to know which technological standard will prevail? For example Linux vs. Windows Vista? Or Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD? DMB vs. DVB-H? Before you start to buy one of these expensive market research studies, take a careful look at Google.

As always, Google provides you with the answer that you need. The search giant has a little niffty service called Googletrends that might give you a hint which technological standard is hot and how the trend looks like. Below you will find some screenshots of prominent concurrent technical standards. Keep in mind that this 1) on a global scale 2) this can only be a proxy indicator.

Battle Nr.1: Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD

Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD

In some kind it’s battle between Next Generation Consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Each one is betting that its disc format (Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD) comes out victorious. Microsoft is in the lead position with it’s headstart with the Xbox360 launch last year. But this means nothing at the moment. Neither the HD-DVD addon Drive for the Xbox360 nor the PS3 are available yet. Therefore time will tell wether Microsoft or Sony will win the race.