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Vapor -- Where?

3 Oct, 2005 By: Stephanie Prange

Following the Consumer Electronics Show, I wrote that I felt the HD DVD group had won the next-generation, high-definition optical disc PR contest. While Blu-ray Disc supporters discussed the philosophical “great leap forward” of that technology, HD DVD stressed its real-world application and demonstrated the technology. HD DVD supporters said it was cheaper and more viable — and, unlike the Blu-ray consortium, had actual titles to announce for the fourth quarter.

Well, here we are at the beginning of the all-important fourth-quarter holiday shopping season, and HD DVD titles are nowhere to be found. The studios involved have pushed back their release, and at least one — Paramount Home Entertainment — has decided to hedge its bets and go with Blu-ray as well. Stalwart technology backer Toshiba has even pushed back the U.S. release of HD DVD hardware.

HD DVD backer and “father” of DVD, Warren Lieberfarb, famously called Blu-ray “vaporware” at one of our magazine's DVD conferences. That charge is beginning to ring hollow as HD DVD delays its pre-emptive launch, and the kickoff of PlayStation 3 next spring, with its Blu-ray technology, draws nearer.

The DVD business is slowing. We'll need the next-generation technology next year to take its place and keep the packaged media business up to date. It's time to put up or shut up. No amount of PR acumen will trump the actual successful launch of a high-definition technology (that is also backwards-compatible to DVD).

Next year, we will learn which is the real “vaporware.”

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