1. Warner denies rumors that it's moving away from dual-support and categorizes it's single-format future in "years from now".
2. Warner pushes HD DVD and BD media throughout the Christmas season, and encourages new and existing consumers to get on board on both sides.
3. Warner drops HD DVD.
Seems to me that if I was an HD DVD consumer, I'd feel a bit "taken" by WB, and wouldn't mind a little consoling by way of software exchange or other means *if* I wanted to move towards a blu software collection to keep pace with the market shift (ie, no HD DVD consumer should feel he/she *should* swap out for blu).
The really funny thing is that the idea wasn't floated by anyone from the HD DVD camp. It was suggested by a fellow who was dyed in the wool Blu. I cannot believe how negative people on both sides are to the idea of some kind of "peace offering". I guess now I can understand why peace in the Middle East and other places is so elusive. A lot of people are unable to budge from their hard line positions even on something as trivial as a video format war.
That is just not true. The earliest adopters knew the risks and those who frequent boards like this one, but I know that HD-DVD players were purchased during the holiday season by people unaware that a sudden change like this was even possible. These are the people I feel bad for. (Well, I do wish I hadn't purchased the Harry Potter box set on HD-DVD since I will not be able to complete the series on one fromat
I am not debating the merit of the "peace offering" idea. I am just pointing out that their are some consumers who deserve a little sympathy in this situation. And btw, I have owned both formats for more than a year so I am not one of them. It is just that the harsh tone some (not necessarily Ron) are taking bothers me.
If Sony wants to rapidly, aggressively grow their market -- taking a short-term financial hit to win this "war" -- they should offer a trade-in credit program for HD-DVD players.
You would take in your HD-DVD player with receipt to any participating retailer and receive a Sony credit for your purchase price. That credit could be used at any retailer towards a Sony Blu-Ray machine. (The retailer would send the player to Sony to be disposed of and reimbursed for their handling costs.)
Similarly, if Warner and other studios, want to motivate things, they should offer a one-for-one disc exchange for HD-DVD to Blu-Ray.
These plans would be extremely expensive. But they would engender very positive will from consumers, could dramatically sway converts to Blu-Ray. It's also two-point conversion in market share: for each exchange HD-DVD loses a customer and Blu-Ray gains a customer.
Not in the grad sceme of things and not when you consider how much has already been spent. It would make sense to do this if Universal and Paramount stay in the HD DVD camp. It wouldn't if one of them starts releasing BD.
It's quite obvious that Blu-ray is already winning this war. There's nothing more they need to do other then wait. The last two studios will cave eventually. Sony does not, and should not, offer up and type of trade in program. All that will do is keep player / software prices higher for longer to absorb the cost of such a program.
Instead of looking at such a "peace offering" as a handout, look at it as a promotion.
People who have purchased HD DVD players are the exact market that the BDA hopes to attract. Except for those that bought into both formats, those buyers spent disposable income on a machine that cannot play Blu-ray discs. It's also possible that, now that a purchase has been made, it may be difficult or impossible for those same people to make another purchase just because the format war didn't go the way of HD DVD.
The low-hanging fruit can be picked in the next couple of weeks. Enthusiasts watching the events of the past week might have already purchased a Blu-ray player if they were on the fence, or are planning to in short order. That's the easy sale.
The next easiest sale is to those that have bought into the hobby, but haven't purchased a Blu-ray player.
The hardest sale is to those that haven't bought into either format and may not recognize the advantages of Blu-ray over DVD.
Applying simple marketing shows that you don't need to market to the first segment, because they are taking it upon themselves to make a purchase. The only marketing you need to do to them is to get them to purchase your player instead of someone else's.
The next target is the HD DVD buyer. The sale is easier than the last segment, and the two major obstacles you face are 1) price, and 2) value comparison to HD DVD. By offering a discount to this segment, you allay some level of concern about #1 and you generate goodwill to smoothe over any hard feelings that the potential buyer may have about how things turned out.
#2 is a more difficult proposition. HD DVD buyers know what their players and the format were capable of. Players of equivalent featuresets need to be offered so that the value is a little less lopsided. That rules out any non Profile 1.1 players, and one could argue that it could rule out any non Profile 2.0 players.
Offering present HD DVD owners something on the order of the Panasonic DMP-BD50 for $350 and positioning it as an upgrade from their HD DVD player will make it easier for the fence-sitters to buy into the format. Once you have them, they become evangelists that will help you with that last segment of holdouts.
$350 for the DMP-BD50 may seem ridiculous if you're accustomed to the Blu-ray player market, but if you're coming in from the other side, it's the only player currently available or announced, besides the PS3, that approaches the functionality found in every HD DVD player made. Of course, its support of the advanced audio specs make it better than the A30 and A3, and 1080p24 make it better than the A3, but even at $350, it's also substantially more expensive than all but the A35 HD DVD player.
If the PS3 entered the discussion, I think that a good price to get converts would be $300 for the 40GB version. It's been sold at that price before during various promotions, so I don't think that $300 is unreasonable. It also achieves Sony's goal of getting more PS3's in the wild.
To put these numbers into perspective, if the BDA were to buy 750,000 Blu-ray players valued at $300 each and give them away, that would be a $225M hit to the marketing budget. That's a lot of money, but not a lot when you consider that doing so would buy the entire HDM market and put the issue of multiple formats to rest.
From the perspective of the movie studios, I definitely feel like Warner Bros. betrayed the consumers. They were quoted as denying any change in plans as recently as mid-December. Not too many people are going to believe that they didn't know what was up by then.
Warner Bros. could gain an incredible amount of goodwill by exchanging discs for consumers. They could even partner with a big box retailer to perform the exchanges for them, as the retailer would gain from getting people in the door and they would have the chance to market to those people and perhaps persuade them to buy more Blu-ray hardware and software while they were there.
Customers get immediate gratification without dealing with the delays and hassle of mailing discs, Warner Bros. doesn't have to deal with fulfillment (not a strong suit of the WB store at this point in time), and retailers get customers walking in the door. I don't see how the cost of such a program wouldn't be outweighed by the direct and indirect benefits.
The hardware and software promotions could be combined. Instead of offering 5 free discs by mail, which might show up sometime around May, offer the players at a trade-in discount and an even exchange for the discs. The players get recycled by the pallet-full instead of being sent in one at a time or some such nonsense, and customers walk out with brand new hardware and most of the same movies (at least from WB) that they had before. That's a lot of happy customers!
This isn't about anyone asking for a handout. It's about using marketing to overcome obstacles to purchase. Every sale has a cost, and it's just a matter of how much cost-per-sale is acceptable to obtain one's goals. Blu-ray has a long uphill battle ahead of it against standard definition DVD. It needs as many happy customers as it can get.
" Blu-ray has a long uphill battle ahead of it against standard definition DVD "
At last , some sense . The war hasnt been won , a lot of money changed hands to achieve a certain result and that could happen again
With over a million Hd-dvd players in the wild ( and usually pretty good Sd upscalers ) any Hd discs that do come out will make some sales .
Warners interpretation of 2:1 sales advantage as being ' the consumer making a choice ' has left a bad taste in a lot of mouths .
Paramount announced a deal this week to allow downloading sales of HD movies either as PPV or to a dedicated Hard Drive which may be a timely illustration that Warners/Sonys/BDA desperation to 'win' the war by fair means or foul in record time is because they know that BD IS NOT the only choice available to enthusiasts in the medium to long term .
As regards the OP's original idea , it's a nice thought but after May I think it will be just more BDA hardball , Warner's included . I wish I was wrong but my next purchase is going to be a really good Video Processor because I'm not rebuying all my 1500 Criterion and World Sd discs this time around ( and how the hell are they going to convince people about BD while Region Coding is still being enforced ? )
BTW, I posted much earlier saying I agree w/ the idea of a peace offering, but that doesn't have to mean that I feel people should not be responsible for their own actions. In fact, elsewhere, I've expressed that sentiment too.
Still, I think a peace offering can be a good idea for the companies themselves. Afterall, their bottom lines are to make $$$. And if a peace offering somehow helps their bottom lines in the long run, they should do it even if it might seem silly to some of us. Let's face it. People as a whole are not exactly very rational creatures. And it might do the companies some good to come out of this w/ the best PR possible, particularly wrt early adopters, including the growth of the early adopter market. Who knows? They could very well use better PR for their next new endeavor (beyond HDM) that requires strong support from early adopters. Considering people still regularly point back to the 30-plus-yo Beta vs VHS war, etc. in the midst of this format war, it certainly wouldn't hurt them to present themselves in better light than otherwise, if it's feasible.
At the end of the day, it's all just about good business for them afterall...
While I would agree it is premature to call this format war over. Toshiba may not have a choice in the matter and that is only a matter of time at this point. IMHO retailers ,studios and the industry itself has grown tired of the format war. If retailers start pulling HD-DVD off there shelves or giving it less retail space. Both Universal and Paramount will have no choice but to switch to Blu-ray. Another thing that can end the war without Toshiba having a choice, is if public perception is that HD-DVD is dead. Then nether Toshiba, Universal or Paramount will have a choice. IMHO its out of Toshiba's hands and while Toshiba can prolong the war a little longer. Unless things change drastacly in there favor the end result is still going to be the same. And Sony's Blu-ray will still be the winner in the HD format war.