Most format wars are over before hitting the retail sector with one side clearly weaker than the other. At worst the rivals hit stores and a hierarchy develops inside the first year. Is this where we're now at with Blu-ray and HD DVD?
Certainly the evidence to form such a conclusion is building: In February Blu-ray sales accelerated past HD DVD for the first time, by April Sony's format was selling three times more than HD DVD and now Blockbuster – the world's largest rental store – has confirmed it has expanded its focus on Blu-ray at the expense of HD DVD.
The company has announced that it will stock only Blu-ray discs in 1,450 of its US stores with just 250 stores carrying both formats. Blockbuster cited the limited choice of titles on HD DVD as a key factor in its decision as well as actual real-world rental figures. Matthew Smith – Blockbuster's Senior VP – said, "We intend to meet the demands of our customers and based on the trends we're seeing, we're expanding our Blu-ray inventory to ensure our stores reflect the right level of products."
He did however stop short of declaring an all out winner adding: "While it is still too early to say which high-definition format will become the industry standard, we will continue to closely monitor customer rental patterns both at our stores and online, so we can adjust our inventory mix accordingly and ensure that Blockbuster is offering customers the most convenient access to the movies they want, in the format they want."
Naturally the rival HD DVD camp has hit back at the Blockbuster decision with HD DVD Promotional Group co-president Ken Graffeo accusing Blockbuster of being too hasty in making a choice, but it looks to be a call in vain.
With the largest storage capacity (25GB per side verses HD DVD's 15GB) Blu-ray is the certainly the more technically advanced of the two formats and with content on demand seen as the delivery method of the future any victory may well prove a hollow one...