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Blu ray blank media is in much demand now that the specification is the undisputed successor-format of DVD proper. But it was not inevitable; instead of clamoring for Blu ray bank discs, the buying public could have just as easily been asking for HD-DVD blank media.

Though format wars are nothing new when it comes to hardware and software technology, the DVD market has been spared anything like the old Betamax versus VHS battles between Sony and Panasonic during the late ’70s and early ’80s. This sixth in a series of articles examining many things DVD will conclude our brief history of the discontinued HD-DVD format.

The Order of Battle upon the first salvos launched in the Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD format war looked like this: Sony, Pioneer, Samsung, Philips, Apple, and Dell – among others – for Blu-ray Disc; Toshiba, NEC, Sanyo, Warner Brothers, Microsoft, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard – among others – for HD-DVD. The struggle lasted for about two years, during which time consumer confusion and indifference contributed to the steady stream of defections by HD-DVD Promotion Group members to the format advocated by the Blu-ray Disc Association. Warner Brothers’ decision to withdraw support was likely the death knell for the format. Then Netflix began to phase out HD-DVD titles from its inventory. Retail giant Best Buy followed suit with the announcement that it would remove HD-DVD-capable players from its stores while recommending Blu-ray Disc over HD-DVD to its customers. Finally, none other than Wal-Mart, the world’s largest store, instituted a Blu-ray-only policy. Toshiba had no choice but to officially abandon its own format a year later in early 2008, thus completely bringing to an end the HD-DVD.

From 2006 to 2008, close to one million dedicated HD-DVD players had been sold worldwide, with over a hundred and fifty thousand add-on units for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 gaming console. Four hundred and seventy-five HD-DVD titles had been released in the United States, with two hundred and thirty-six in Japan. The first American HD-DVD films of note were from Warner Brothers, with the very last title from Bandai Visual; the final ever HD-DVD release anywhere in the world was German.

Various reasons contributed to the demise of the promising HD-DVD format, but it was almost certainly not technical. Though it did not have the storage capacity of Blu-ray Discs at a commercially available maximum 30GB to its nemesis’ of 50GB, the format was generally comparable otherwise and it was the loss of industry support more than anything else that doomed it to the status of a historical footnote. High definition sales still do not threaten standard DVDs, as the added expense of new hardware, not to mention all the additional costs involved with replacing one’s library of favorite titles barely ten years after the debut of standard DVD, make it unlikely that Blu-ray will become mainstream just yet.