Wal-Mart announced yesterday that its 4,000 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores will soon start selling only one high definition DVD format: the Blu-ray Disc. In less than 30 days, shoppers will see a more predominant move toward Blu-ray in stores and online.
Over the next several months, the retailer - the largest seller of DVDs in the USA - will phase out HD DVD movies and hardware and reorganize shelf space. By June, Wal-Mart, Sam’s Clubs (and their respective web sites) are expected to offer only Blu-ray high definition movies and players. The company will continue to offer standard definition movies and DVD players and DVD players that "up convert" standard definition DVDs.
In a prepared statement, Gary Severson, senior vice president, Home Entertainment, Wal-Mart, U.S. said:
"We’ve listened to our customers, who are showing a clear preference toward Blu-ray products and movies with their purchases. With the customers' best interest in all we do, we wanted to share our decision and timeline with them as soon as possible, knowing it will help simplify their purchase decision, increase selection, and increase adoption long term. We anticipate enhancing our selection with continued great values in hi-definition Blu-ray products, so our customers can further enhance their entertainment experience at home."
This move follows decisions earlier in the week by Netflix, the online DVD rental service, and retailer Best Buy to back the Blu-ray Disc format.
There has been no official comment yet from Toshiba, the creator and chief proponent of the HD DVD format, but Japan's NHK television network is reporting that the company will soon shut down that portion of the business and cease production on HD DVD players and recorders.
The NY Times (and many bloggers and industry analysts) are now writing obituaries for HD DVD. Estimates of the amount of money Toshiba will have lost in this format war run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
[Previously: Netflix Goes Blu; Bids HD DVD Adieu]