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Wal-Mart Turns Blu

15 Feb, 2008 By: Stephanie Prange

Wal-Mart Stores U.S. Feb. 15 announced that its 4,000 Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores will move forward this year with one high-def movie and hardware format: Blu-ray.

By June, Wal-Mart stores, Sam's Clubs, www.walmart.com and www.samsclub.com will offer only Blu-ray Disc movies and hardware machines, as well as standard-definition DVDs and DVD players, and upconverting DVD players.

“We've listened to our customers, who are showing a clear preference toward Blu-ray products and movies with their purchases,” said Gary Severson, SVP, home entertainment, Wal-Mart U.S. “With the customers best interest in all we do, we wanted to share our decision and timeline with them as soon as possible, knowing it will help simplify their purchase decision, increase selection and increase adoption long term. We anticipate enhancing our selection with continued great values in high-definition Blu-ray products.”

Wal-Mart will sell through remaining HD DVD product, but “in less than 30 days customers will see a more predominant move toward Blu-ray in stores, clubs and online,” the company announced.

The announcement follows similar moves this week by online rental pioneer Netflix and consumer-electronics chain Best Buy. Netflix said it will no longer purchase HD DVD titles, and subscribers with HD DVD in their saved queue will be converted to standard DVD by the end of the month.

Best Buy announced it will begin steering consumers toward Blu-ray Disc with prominently displayed hardware and software displays.

“Consumers have told us that they want us to help lead the way,” said Brian Dunn, president and COO of Best Buy. “We've listened to our customers, and we are responding. Best Buy will recommend Blu-ray as the preferred format.”

Netflix's chief content officer said: “The prolonged period of competition between two formats has prevented clear communication to the consumer regarding the richness of the high-def experience versus standard definition. We're now at the point where the industry can pursue the migration to a single format, bring clarity to the consumer and accelerate the adoption of high-def.”

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