Sales figures make it clear-- it's a draw.

It's time to stop kidding ourselves about the HD format war. There isn't going to be a winner. Not today or ever.  Already picked a side?  Congratulations; it's going to be around forever....whichever one it is.

A surprising conclusion?  Let's look at the possibilities. First, there is the chance neither HD-DVD nor Blu Ray wins; they both go the way of the dodo and UMD movies. Plausible...until one looks at the burgeoning market share of HDTVs. People want content for those shiny new sets, and and those sets continue to sell, demand will rise. There isn't a strong competitor to either format on the horizon. On-demand HD will rear its head one day, but bandwidth issues are going to delay it a decade or more.

The second possibility-- one format wins, one loses. But both have already sold over a million discs each. The odds of either dying before doubling that are zero. That's a lot of discs...discs that are going to be around forever. Their owners are going to want something to play them on. Each user base is already past "critical mass" for major releases-- the point at which a studio can pay back mastering and production costs, and still make a profit on the release. So new movies will continue to arrive.

That brings us to the final option. Both remain. Dual-format players become cheap and ubiquitous.  The average consumer buys an HD movie without caring (or in some cases, knowing) its format. Just as they buy recordable DVDs today. Is there any doubt this is the eventual outcome? It won't be this year of course, and probably not in 2008. But eary 2009-- look out!

I'll close with a surprising fact. According to DVD-Empire sales figures, HD-DVD-- after being beaten badly earlier this year-- has managed to climb back this month to tie Blu-Ray. Admittedly, thats a single retailer...but their weekly sales charts have tracked closely with Nielsen figures throughout all of 2007.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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