The biggest news so far at CES actually came Friday, when Warner Bros. Entertainment said it would release its high-definition DVD titles only in the Blu-ray disc format. The studio had until now supported both Blu-ray and HD DVD. With this one auspiciously timed announcement, the tide seems to have turned definitively against the HD DVD format.
Toshiba America Consumer Products, one of the biggest backers of HD DVD, will roll out its third-generation HD DVD products today at CES's opening. However, Toshiba Digital A/V Group's vice president of marketing Jodi Sally did not talk about new products at the pre-show Toshiba press conference yesterday.
While the Warner announcement had led some to conclude HD DVD was already dead, Sally said Toshiba did not see it that way. After all, the most recent quarter had been the strongest yet in terms of HD DVD sales for Toshiba. "We firmly believe HD DVD is the best format for consumers," Sally told the press conference.
But Blu-ray has gained significant ground last year. Some retailers chose to focus on Blu-ray. Mass merchandiser Target, for example, gave substantially more shelf space to Blu-ray titles and sells just one standalone high-def player – a Sony Blu-ray unit. Blu-ray disc sales beat HD DVD disc sales throughout 2007. The announcement by Warner, the biggest distributor of high-def movies, will give Blu-ray momentum that may be too much to overcome, even by big HD DVD backers like Toshiba and Microsoft.
Microsoft's Bill Gates, giving an opening keynote address at CES yesterday evening, spoke about his company's CE products without mentioning HD DVD.