The news this week that the former king of home video rental, Blockbuster Inc., had sided with Blu-ray Disc in the so-called blue-laser format war, reminded me of that old philosophy question about a tree falling in the woods. If Blockbuster picks Blu-ray Disc over HD DVD and no one is listening, does it really matter?
Im of the opinion (shared by many) that optical media is a dying format. The future, I believe, is some form of downloadable content. That being said, there always will be plenty of people who still want to own a physical copy of their favorite movie.
DVDs will continue to be the format of choice for many years to come. I have a pretty discerning eye for video quality and generally Im quite happy with my progressive scan, up-conversion DVD player. Being in the business of high-end home electronics, it is inevitable that I will also own a blue-laser player as well. As for the average consumer? Im not so sure.
Most consumers dont want to be sold another new video format even if it promises better quality picture and sound. Theyve already invested in a stack of DVDs that they probably dont watch all that often. And theyre quite happy downloading mediocre music files from iTunes and laughing at barely visible home movies on YouTube. Why would they want to buy a new disc player for HD video? Many of them probably never even upgraded their cable package after they brought home their first HD plasma.
So the fact that Blockbuster, who can barely keep pace with Wal-Mart and Netflix gave their blessing to Blu-ray Disc is only big news to those of us entrenched in the consumer electronics business. The rest of the world probably has other things to worry about like Paris Hiltons jail sentence.