Many years ago, in the early 1980s, a war raged between VHS, backed by Matsushita, and Sony's Betamax. Although inferior in quality, the market went to VHS even though it took a decade before Sony stopped making new Betamax products. VHS videorecorders were then made obsolete by the advent of the DVD player, which, enjoyed since the beginning a unique format (which possibly helped its sensational success).
But as many know, in life what goes around turns around, and a new format war ensued in the last five years or so between high-definition HD DVD players backed by Toshiba and Blu-ray disc players by Sony Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Sharp Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co.
The war was fought bitterly and without exclusion of means: HD DVD which also featured Intel and Microsoft among its supporters had enlisted Hollywood studios like Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation only to produce movie in its format.
Blu-ray had instead Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Co. and News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox on its side. In the end, Blu-ray manage to bring on Warner Bros. Entertainment and this was a hard blow for HD DVD, which became lethal when last Friday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest U.S. retailer, announced it would sell only Blu-ray DVDs and hardware, following Netflix’s decision to cease carrying rentals in HD DVD.
So it was hardly a real surprise when today, Toshiba’s President announced that it will, as of March 2008 stop manufacturing HD DVD players and recorders. Blu-ray has won, long life to the new format. Now we can all go and buy a shining new Blu-ray player without fearing that it will not play the next Hollywoood hits.
What about IP? Not much, save to alert that Blu-ray is not a trademark but a generic, category name, like hi-fi or desktop or home-theater. But how much do you want to bet that someone will try to register it? Wait for the next genius in line…