As we always say it is still early but it is slowly seeming like Blu-ray has won the format war over HD-DVD...

In a story from the New York Post, as we have mentioned so far in 2007 Blu-ray disc sales have eclipsed those of HD-DVD. However, with strong sales of The Departed and Casino Royale on Blu-ray, it does seem like consumers are picking one format over the other.

"The format war is in its final phase," states 20th Century Fox's Steve Feldstein which, like Sony and Disney, is releasing titles exclusively on Blu-ray. "It's never been a question of if Blu-ray will pass HD-DVD, but a matter of when."

That said, Universal's Ken Graffeo (a studio that is firmly behind HD-DVD) still thinks it's too early to call. He also feels that the numbers for Blu-ray sales are pretty low when one considers how many PlayStation 3 systems are out there. The PS3 comes equipped with a Blu-ray player. He also attributes the Blu-ray surge to the fact that more Blu-ray titles have been released so far in 2007.

"You can't determine a trend over a couple of months," Graffeo says.

We can continue to pontificate all we want, the big change will come when the stores that carry these products decide to free up shelf space by eliminating one of the formats. According to Alison Casey, "who analyzes consumer trends for London-based Understanding & Solutions," she feels that the time is quickly coming when retailers will do just that.

"They never wanted two formats. It confuses consumers and creates problems with them with returns," Casey told The Post. "They're looking to go to a single format as soon as possible."

She went on to say that, "the many studios providing movies on Blu-ray, along with its inclusion in the PS3 (listing for $500, about the same as the cheapest HD-DVD player) gives it an insurmountable advantage over HD-DVD. (An attachment to play HD DVD discs is available as a $200 add-on for Xbox.)"

She feels that the Blu-ray will further dominate if Sony "makes good on its promise to drop prices for Blu-ray players - currently about $800 - to $600 this summer and below $300 by the end of the year."

As for the combo systems coming to the market from LG Electronics (to play HD-DVD and Blu-ray discs), Casey feels those "will only confuse consumers."

Even with all this happening, Casey feels it will be at least another 5 years until one of the next generation formats "overtake the hugely popular standard DVD format." The reason for this popularity is simple economics. The standard discs and players are much cheaper than their HD-DVD and Blu-ray counterparts.

Evan Jacobs