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Is HD DVD in Target's Bullseye?

26 Oct, 2006 By: John Latchem

Target recently began selling HD DVD and Blu-ray discs in stores, although it won't have any hardware on shelves for another month.

After examining Target's HD display, and speaking with a number of store clerks from around the country, it seems Target has decided to market the HD product as a tool to sell video game systems.

Most stores expect to have Sony's PlayStation 3 consoles, which is Blu-ray compatible, on shelves Nov. 17. An HD DVD add-on player for Xbox 360 is expected around the same time.

Curiously, Target's display prioritizes the need to have one of these game consoles for HD movie playback over either format's standalone players, which Target probably will not stock until next year, once prices come down.

It's an interesting strategy, especially considering recent studies that show next-generation game consoles should sell well without the incentive of watching movies. Even without players, the inventory looked fairly well depleted, with the HD DVD side a tad more barren than the other.

Before the launch of either format, Blu-ray seemed to have the hype advantage, touting superior technology and compatibility with PS3. After all, PS2's DVD playback function helped that format take off.

Then again, DVD's only real competition was VHS, and the public's preference for digital over analog had been sealed by the Compact Disc's victory over audio tape and vinyl.

In this new format war, constant hardware delays have given HD DVD the early advantage.

Neither does the Target strategy bode well for Blu-ray. With Blu-ray players already deemed too expensive by several clerks, early shipments of PS3 likely will sell out quickly. If the Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on is shipped in sufficient numbers, and HD DVD players continue to be cheaper and more plentiful through the holiday season, yesterday's underdog could be sitting pretty in the year to come.

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