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Format Wars Update: Sentinels vs. Pirates

May 24, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Tuesday saw the launch of a new scrimmage in the format war between HD-DVD and Blu-ray as the dueling next-generation high-def formats launched several of their most anticipated titles.
Toshiba’s HD-DVD released the long-awaited “Matrix” trilogy. Sony’s Blu-ray opened fire with the first two ”Pirates of the Caribbean” films, “Curse of the Black Pearl” and “Dead Man’s Chest.”
Blu-ray releases have been quietly outselling their HD-DVD counterparts since the holidays, when hundreds of thousands of Blu-ray-bundled PlayStation 3’s were sold. In March, Blu-ray’s exclusive release and blockbuster sales of “Casino Royale” set off a wave of press reports noting Sony now is leading the format battle in terms of disc sales.
Tuesday’s “Matrix” vs. “Pirates” battle is another milestone, but it’s difficult to crown a victor. In addition to being far from an apples-to-apples comparison, since they are different films, all three “Matrix” titles are sold together as a package, while the “Pirates” films are sold individually.
Blu-ray continues to lead in total sales. On Amazon.com, the average sales rate of the top 25 HD-DVDs briefly matched Blu-ray sales Tuesday, then fell off.
As with “Casino,” some of the “Pirates” marketing emphasizes the HD version. On HDNet, there are lengthy ads extolling the virtues of the Blu-ray version of the disc.
In other recent format war news:
• Microsoft reiterated its commitment to the HD-DVD format, which is compatible with its Xbox 360 game system. “We firmly stand behind the HD-DVD format as the best choice for consumers,” read an announcement on the Microsoft Gamerscore blog. “Current reports that Microsoft has a backup play which includes Blu-ray support are incorrect.”
• High-def players of both formats continue to drop in price, but HD-DVD is still about half the price of its rival. Toshiba’s second-generation HD-A2 HD-DVD player has hit a record low on Amazon.com, TVPredictions.com pointed out recently. Earlier this month, Panasonic introduced a Blu-ray player at a record-low $599.

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