If you're thinking of buying an next generation DVD player that supports high definition resolution, Blockbuster may've made your decision easier.
The video rental giant announced it will only rent Blu-Ray discs in its 1,450 stores when it expands its high-def offerings next month.
What does this mean?
There are two formats in the high definition DVD market, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. It's very similar to the old VHS vs Beta war we had in the '80s.
In the videogame world, Sony's PlayStation 3, which has struggled in sales because of price, includes a Blu-Ray player inside the box. Recently, many big box stores are offering heavy discounts on Sony TV/PS3 combos, essentially playing up the PS3s ability to be a killer high definition DVD player, which it is.
Microsoft had supported the HD-DVD format with a $199 add-on to its Xbox 360 machines. It'll be interesting to see if the Bill Gates Company adds a new Blu-Ray drive.
Blockbuster has been renting both Blu-ray and HD DVD titles in 250 stores since late last year but officials said customers were renting Blu-Ray over HD-DVD titles about seven out of 10 times.
Part of that was choice. All major studios except one are releasing films in Blu-Ray format. Several of them, including Walt Disney, are only releasing Blu-Ray.
Universal Studios exclusively supports HD-DVD.
"The consumers are sending us a message. I can't ignore what I'm seeing," Matthew Smith, senior vice president of merchandising at Blockbuster, told The Associated Press. "When you walk into a store and see all this product available in Blu-ray and there is less available on HD DVD, I think the consumer gets that."
Smith said Blockbuster will continue to rent HD-DVD titles in the original 250 locations and online.
Most industry analysts are predicting this decision will help Blu-Ray win the format war. With Sony's new Blu-Ray player debuting at $499 and an impending drop in price for PS3 looming -- thanks to lower costs to make Blu-Ray players -- HD-DVD is in some trouble.
The North American HD DVD Promotional Group told the Associated Press that Blockbuster's decision was shortsighted and skewed by the success of films released by Blu-ray studios in the first three months of the year.
"I think trying to make a format decision using such a short time period is really not measuring what the consumer is saying," said Ken Graffeo, co-president of the group.