Geneva, Switzerland, April 1st - Early this morning, The Blu-ray Disc Association and The HD DVD Promotions Group announced an end to the high definition "format wars" and said they would now combine the best features of the two competing technologies into a new format to be known as "HD-Blu."
For much of the past year, the Blu-ray group (backed by Sony, Disney, Fox, Apple and Dell) and the HD DVD camp (backed by Toshiba, Microsoft and Universal) have engaged in a fierce battle to win the hearts and minds of consumers, most of whom didn't realize the DVDs they have been watching for the past ten years were providing inferior picture and sound.
Speaking on behalf of the two groups, Reverend Jesse Jackson of the newly-formed Electronic Rainbow Coalition said, "The time for healing is now. This was a war of choice that left consumers on the sidelines with no real choice at all. Both sides have become so focused on winning this unwinnable war that they have lost touch with what they desire most - the ability to charge consumers for content they already own."
"But the time has come to choose hope, not war. The time has come to put petty differences and outrageous claims behind us and tear down the wall that divides red and blue. In its place, we will build a bridge... a bridge to a world in which every man, woman or child is free to watch "Beerfest" with the crystal clear picture and sound the filmmakers intended."
Jackson had previously negotiated a settlement between Sony and JVC in an earlier format war involving the future of Sony's Betamax format and was instrumental in bringing an end to the 8-track tape crisis that confronted America during the turbulent 1970s. He was brought in to broker a deal between the two high definition groups after he was successful in getting UMDs back onto the shelves of Target stores.
The new HD-Blu format will be backwards compatible, meaning that you'll be able to play your current library of standard definition DVDs - as well as any CDs, Blu-ray Discs or HD DVDs you may own - in any HD-Blu player (expected in stores by Christmas).
Studios will continue with their planned Blu-ray and HD DVD releases through September, after which they will start ramping up for a full slate of HD-Blu releases beginning in mid-October. Prices - for the discs and the hardware - have not yet been announced.
Paramount and Warner, which have released films in both Blu-ray and HD DVD, issued a joint statement through their spokesman, Rodney King, saying that the two studios were delighted to support the HD-Blu format and that they were looking forward to working with the other studios to ensure its success.
But David Bishop, President of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, said that he is doubtful that HD-Blu will become "the new high-definition packaged media standard" and that a team of statisticians are standing by, ready to twist sales data to demonstrate the market dominance and leadership of the Blu-ray format, even after it is discontinued.