Next Gen DVD War Over? Warner Ditches HD For Blu-ray

Just as crazily prescient Pali analyst Rich Greenfield had predicted, Time Warner’s Warner Bros. studio has stopped supporting the HD DVD format and will now work exclusively with Sony’s Blu-ray. Since the TWX unit was the only studio straddling the fence between the two rivals, it seems likely that the balance has tipped permanently in favour of Sony: Expect HD supporters NBC U (GE) and Paramount (VIAB) to fall in line sooner than later.

WB CEO Barry Meyer correctly notes that the format war was stopping consumer adoption of either format, and that his announcement is great news for Hollywood, which desperately needs to consumers to start buying next-gen DVDs. Left unsaid: Exactly how many truckloads of cash Sony needed to send to Burbank to win Barry’s affection.

Several interesting cascade effects from this: For starters, an Apple/Blu-ray tie up, which we had thought unlikely this morning, looks much more practical now. Another potential winner: Sony’s laggard PS3 machines, whose Blu-ray players will now seem much more useful for gamers trying to decide which console to buy.

Losers, of course, include Toshiba and Microsoft (MSFT), but also the poor saps who bought HD DVD players – either as standalones, or more distressingly, built-in to their new laptops. Last month Universal exec and HD DVD booster Ken Graffeo, told the NYT that consumers would by 5 million laptops with HD DVD drives by the end of this year. For consumers’ sake, we hope those projections were wildly optimistic.

See Also: Do Apple’s Macs Need Blu-ray?

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