Comment: Why has Dreamworks and Paramount dropped Blu-ray?

Every time you think there is going to be a winner in the Blu-ray HD DVD battle, one of the camps pulls something out of the bag and stuns the industry.

The latest is the announcement from Dreamworks and Paramount that it will only be backing HD DVD from now on.

Why the sudden change in heart? I think there are a number of reasons some, in fact, mostly including money, but also about development and the overall cost of implementation.

Money makes the world go around as they say. It also makes companies make certain decisions that they perhaps wouldn't have and I'm sure the rumoured $50 million to Dreamworks and $100 million to Paramount would have helped smooth any concerns.

But more interesting is the news that with Blu-ray becoming more focused on interactivity like games and access to the web, companies will have to start contributing much more than just movies, director's commentary and featurettes to the finished package.

Disney, who have embraced Blu-ray wholehearted probably don't see this as an issue. The animation house has its own interactive arm and making games based on the cartoons to include on the disk is no real change of direction, however for Dreamworks, it's not the same picture.

Perhaps the worry that the Blu-ray's interactive features as mentioned above isn't a standardised format over HD DVD's already working and completed interactive offering, HDi is what scared them off.

Could it have pushed the company into choosing the format that many commentators still believe is the weaker of the two?

Dreamworks and Paramount are of course saying it's nothing to do with cash. Just like Blu-ray is saying that Target and Blockbuster moving to stock only Blu-ray isn't cash related, but more about cost of implementation.

But what makes this all so futile is that within 5 years the Blu-ray vs. HD DVD format won't matter anyway. Broadband streams will be fast enough to download movies, companies like Apple with its iTunes store and Microsoft with its Xbox movie store will have swooped in and stolen the march, just like download sites have with the music industry.

What both the Blu-ray and HD DVD camps need to realise is that unless they stop this bickering then a smaller stealthy option will sneak in the back door and steal the prize.

My belief is that this will be downloads. It's happened before and it is a dead cert to happen again.


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