Worst Reassurance in Technology

Worst Reassurance in Technology

“We are delighted that the HD DVD format has been independently endorsed by Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, New Line Cinema, and Warner Bros. Studios.”
Mr. Tadashi Okamura, President and CEO of Toshiba Corporation.

hd dvdThe HD-DVD: silver medalist the most recent format war, a contest where everybody except gold is taken out back and shot through the head. It seemed that HD-DVD was off to a flying start – that quote contains some very big names and it was the truth and nothing but the truth. That just leaves a little thing called “the whole truth”, and that’s where things get interesting. There are lots of other big names which had pledged Blu-Ray allegiance, like Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox, Buena Vista pictures – and strangely enough Sony Pictures seemed unwilling to produce HD-DVDs.

The stage was set for a pitched battle that could have rocked the ages except for one tiny thing – the customers just didn’t care. Big business seemed genuinely confused that the peons weren’t lining up, pleading for the chance to buy all their movies again in a slightly different, more expensive format. Frothing technical analyses raged back and forth across the web starkly ignorant of the fact that unless you’re a T800 armed with a precision microscope there is absolutely no difference between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. In fact, for regular humans, both have to work very hard to prove there’s anything wrong with the DVDs we already own and “Because the people selling the new things say so” doesn’t cut it.

Realizing that they’d thrown a war and nobody was coming Warner Bros took decisive action. The increasingly expensive and pointless conflict didn’t have to be “won”, it had to be OVER and as quickly as possible. In January 2008 they ended it in the form of a massive, WB-logoed dagger in HD-DVDs back by jumping to the Blu-Ray camp. From that point on HD-DVD was a fast-motion recreation of the Titanic with extra ice, and a month later Toshiba raised the surrender flag.